Part 3

Back in the Smurf Village, Papa Smurf was talking to Polaris. "You couldn't sense where Empath was being smurfed to?" he asked, sounding concerned.
"This is very troubling for this one as well as it is for you, Papa Smurf," Polaris replied. "Normally, because of the telepathic bond that this one shares with Empath, this one would be able to know exactly where Empath is located. But now it is as if something has severed the bond, and this one has no idea what may be the cause."
"You star-smurfed freaks always smurf me out with these telepathic powers of yours," Hefty said. "If I ever smurfed them...and I'm not saying that I would ever want them in the first smurf...I'd make smurf that you telepaths don't smurf into my mind like it's an open book."
"It's only your emotions that we can sense freely, fellow Hefty," Polaris said. "We will not probe your thoughts unless it's something that should be discussed with the village leader in private, and unless it happens to be something that would make you a danger to the entire village."
"I hate having my thoughts probed," Grouchy said.
"You and me both, Grouchy," Hefty said. "I'd rather let the likes of Nosey and Chatty handle my dirty laundry than this pale-faced stranger."
"Anyway, that means we'll have to smurf to Homnibus now to find out where Empath is, don't we, Papa Smurf?" Brainy asked.
"I'm afraid so, Brainy," Papa Smurf said. "You, Hefty, Smurfette, and Grouchy will smurf with me. Polaris will smurf behind with Duncan as his assistant to smurf over things in the village. If Polaris finds a way to smurf Empath, he can contact me with his minds-eye."
"This one acknowledges, Papa Smurf," Polaris said, nodding with acceptance as he watched Papa Smurf and the other four Smurfs take off on Feathers to fly to Homnibus' hovel.

Meanwhile, in the village of Abelagot, Stanley was counting up the money he and Simon have collected from the show. "That little blue elf has served us well," Stanley said, his eyes wide with exciting possibilities. "A few more shows, and we'll have bought our freedom from that no-good wretch of a landlord."
"Yeah," Simon said, as he placed Empath and the mouse back into the cage. "Good riddance to that filthy peasant Vincent Deveraux!"
"I figured that I would find you here, at long last," a voice spoke up from behind Stanley. He turned around and saw that it was the man he and Simon were talking about.
"Ah, Vincent Devereaux...just the man we were looking for," Stanley said, hiding the fact of how he was talking about him.
"It's because of you deadbeats that I am reduced to a 'filthy peasant', Stanley," Vincent said. "I'm here to get what you owe me, and I have a way that you can pay me back the rest of your debt. Come with me to the pub, where we can discuss in private how we will settle the debt."
Stanley knew that Vincent wanted to talk to him alone. "You stay here and pack up the table, Simon," he said. "Devereaux and I have an important discussion."
Simon watched as Stanley and Vincent headed off down the street toward the nearest pub. "That Stanley," he groused. "It's always, 'Simon, do this', 'Simon, do that', and then he goes off with Devereaux like they were best friends whenever he shows up. It's like he doesn't even know whether he truly wants to be rid of that highway robber."
"This isn't any of my smurfness, Simon, but why do you smurf around with him if he smurfs you like that?" Empath asked.
Simon sighed as he finished up his packing and sat in front of the cage with Empath in it. "He's the only one who never makes fun of me just because I'm small," he said. "We always seem to work well together...he handles the business and I handle the performances. I'm quite good with animals...well, mostly with this mouse. He's the only one that I feel close to, maybe because he knows what it's like to be small." That got Simon thinking. "Doesn't it bother you to be a small blue elf?"
"I don't know who I am at all," Empath said. "From where I smurf, everything is big. It's like I'm smurfing in the land of giants."
"That word you use, 'smurf'...what exactly does it mean?" Simon asked. "Is that who and what you are?"
"Your guess is as smurf as mine, Simon," Empath said. "If that's who and what I am, then that's what you can call me."
"Well, Smurf, you seem to be incredibly talented for a small person like yourself," Simon said. "I wonder if there are others like you who have that talent."
"I have no memory of where I smurfed from, Simon," Empath said. "But I do know how to perform various smurfs of acrobatic skill. And I also know how to treat animals."
"I bet your people are the same way, wherever it is you came from," Simon said. And then he noticed Stanley returning, rubbing his hands together and looking very happy. "Well? What does Devereaux want with us?"
Stanley picked up the cage and looked at Empath. "Little blue elf, you're going to help us out with a little problem."

Papa Smurf and the four Smurfs that came with him on Feathers are at Homnibus' hovel, searching around for any sign of the human enchanter. But they couldn't see anything within or around the hovel.
"There's no smurf of Homnibus anywhere, Papa Smurf," Smurfette said. "Even his servant Oliver is gone."
Papa Smurf sighed. "Then it smurfs like we're going to have to smurf this the hard way. There's only two possible locations that are near the Smurf Forest: Villers and Abelagot. We will smurf Villers first and see if we can smurf a trace of Empath in that location."
"You sure it's wise for us to be smurfing around in a human village looking for Empath, Papa Smurf?" Brainy asked, sounding a bit scared.
"What's the matter, Brainy?" Hefty asked. "Scared of smurfing around in the land of giants?"
"Me, the great Brainy Smurf, scared?" Brainy replied. "Why would I be afraid to venture into a world where everything's taller than I am? It's not like we're going to be trampled to smurf, or worse!"
"I hate smurfing in the human world, Papa Smurf," Grouchy said.
"I don't blame any of you for how you feel," Papa Smurf said. "But right now we have to risk smurfing ourselves in their world in order to find Empath and smurf him back to our world."
"I'm willing to smurf the risk, Papa Smurf," Smurfette said.
"I don't like Empath, but I'm not letting him be smurfed away from us by any human," Hefty said.
"I hate losing Empath," Grouchy said.
Brainy gulped. "Well, I can see that you have all the help that you need, Papa Smurf. So I'm going to smurf the sensible thing and smurf straight back to the village..."
"You're smurfing with us, Brainy," Hefty said, as he grabbed Brainy.

At night, in an alleyway in Abelagot, Simon and Stanley met Vincent Devereaux hiding within a doorway, waiting for them. They were told to bring the "little blue elf" and the mouse along, but were given little else besides that. Simon didn't like the looks of what was going to happen.
"Let me show you where we need to go," Devereaux said. He then took them to the outside of a house, where they hid in the shadows. "This house belongs to a rich bourgeois," he explained. "We will begin our work here, so let's review the plan. The elf will go inside the house, identify the valuables, and take them, and we will respectfully wait outside for his return. A child's play."
"WHAT?!?" Empath shouted. "You want to use me to smurf things from honest people? Not on your smurf!"
"The little Smurf is right, Stanley," Simon said. "We're entertainers, not robbers."
"Don't be so self-righteous, Simon," Stanley said. "Think about it! If we help get Devereaux what he wants, when we can settle our debts with him and get him off our backs for good. This is an opportunity worth our consideration."
"Keep your voices down! You'll alert the milita!" Devereaux warned, watching around the corner for them.
"Anyway, you can smurf this without me, and that's final," Empath said.
"So the elf won't go willingly, eh?" Devereaux said. "Then maybe this will encourage him!" He pulled out his knife and then reached into the cage, grabbing the mouse. Simon became fearful when Devereaux held the blade of the knife close to the mouse's throat. "Listen to me, little elf! If you value the life of your little companion, you will do as you are told!"
Empath sensed the fear that came from the mouse. Somehow he felt that he had to put the life of the mouse ahead of his own needs. "Smurf me how I will get inside, and I will smurf it," he said.
Soon they looked around and found a mouse hole big enough for Empath to enter the house through. "Remember that the life of your friend is in my hands, elf," Devereaux said just as Empath entered. "If you want to see him alive, do not forget to come back. If you escape...squeak!" He showed the blade at the mouse's throat to make sure he got the point across. Then he jabbed Empath in the butt with the point of the knife. "Now get going! Hurry up and bring us all that you can find that has value!"
Empath didn't like being poked in the butt with any sharp object. He felt like he wanted to run away, but he knew that Devereaux was threatening him with the mouse's life, and besides he had no idea where he could run off to. It was as if this was the intended course for his life, and he had to live it no matter what.
Empath went through the passage of the mouse hole and found himself in the main room of the house. Smurfs of value, smurfs of value, Empath thought. What could smurf in this house that actually has value?
He crept quietly across the room until he came to a giant door that was barely ajar. He pushed the door so he could slip into the next room and saw that he was now in the kitchen. Something about the kitchen reminded Empath of somewhere else, if only he knew what.
Then he sensed that something was sneaking up behind him. He turned around around and saw that it was a cat, who thought that he was a blue mouse. He gulped. "Now this isn't what I was expecting," he said fearfully, as he slowly backed away.
The cat swiped at Empath with a paw, which made Empath run. He chased the Smurf around the kitchen until he came to a cabinet, where the cat jumped straight toward him. "I'm going to be smurfed for sure," he said, as he ducked for cover.
The cat hit his head on the cabinet, shaking it enough to cause a small pot to fall from the top of the cabinet right onto the cat's head, knocking him out cold.
"Cat and mouse games really aren't much fun for us mouse types," Empath commented, who then wondered where such a comment came from. "Well, at the very least, he's off my smurf." He hopped onto the top of a table to see what he could find in this room that had any value. And then he saw it. "Great Ancestors!"

Outside the house, Stanley, Simon, and Devereaux were getting impatient, waiting for the "little blue elf's" return. Simon put his ear to the wall to see if he could hear anything. And then: "Here he is! He came back!"
Empath emerged, carrying a bunch of leaves. "Look what I have smurfed!"
"What is THIS?" Devereaux asked, taking the leaves from Empath's hand.
"It's sarsaparilla, Devereaux," Empath answered. "It's food that my...uh, that I eat. It's really smurfy."
"You stupid dwarf!" Devereaux shouted, crushing the leaves. "We did not ask for leaves! What we want you to bring back is money and gold!"
"Money and gold?" Empath asked, chewing on a sarsaparilla leaf he still had. "You should have smurfed that's what you wanted in the first place...not that I really smurf much need for it anyway!"
"Get back inside and make it quick!" Devereaux said, jabbing Empath with the knife point again. "We must get out of here before the militia discovers us!"
Simon, who tried out a sarsaparilla leaf, felt like he was going to vomit. He buried his face in the bushes while Empath went back inside the house again.

Later, at Vincent Devereaux's hideout where Stanley and Simon also went, he examined the items that Empath had carried out of the house. "Ten gold pieces," he grumbled, throwing the coins onto a table. "This is pitiful."
"Coins are not easy for me to smurf out of the house," Empath said. "And given that I smurf small pockets, the only thing I could find that would smurf in it was a shiny pebble."
"A shiny pebble?!" Devereaux exclaimed. "Show me!"
Empath dug into his pocket and pulled out the pebble, which Devereaux examined closely. "It's a diamond! Of course! Jewelry, precious stones...they don't carry much weight, and yet they're worth a lot of money! That should be enough to pay off the debt, shouldn't it, my friends?"
"So that's how we're settling the debt?" Simon asked while he was watching over Empath and the mouse. "By stealing jewelry?"
"But how many houses will we need to go through to get what we need?" Stanley asked, not paying attention to Simon's indignation.
"I will let you know when the time comes," Devereaux said before he turned his attention to Empath. "Now, elf, remember this: from now on, I want you to only take things like this diamond, you hear? And don't think of escaping this place...not that you have anywhere you can go from here!"
Stanley took the cage that Empath and the mouse were held in and hung it from the ceiling with a chain attached to some ropes. As the three humans went to sleep, Empath sat in his cage thinking. He felt a deep gnawing within him that what he was doing was wrong, that this wasn't what he was supposed to do. But he couldn't remember anything about his life that would make him wonder where such a feeling came from.