Part 5

Meanwhile, at that particular moment when Polaris had the visions, Brainy and Hefty were hiding out inside a human tavern in Abelagot, listening to the talk that was going on.
"This Bandit Slurf paid you a visit?" one of the customers asked.
"Yeah, he has taken it all," another customer responded. "And he left behind this note that I can't make out what he's saying. 'My apologies...of the slurfmost'...darn, I cannot understand that word! 'I'm slurfing this for the slurf of the mouse! If you want to slurf me, please slurf Papa Slurf!' Who do you think this Papa Slurf is?"
"I don't know," the first customer said. "Maybe he's the ringleader and has a bunch of these little Slurfs doing his dirty work."
"Sounds like he's been kidnapped," the second customer said. "I hope somebody finds his papa soon."
Brainy and Hefty looked at each other, as if they have found their clue at last. They quietly made their way to under one of the tables where Papa Smurf, Smurfette, and Grouchy were waiting.
"Papa Smurf, we've just heard these humans smurf about this Bandit Smurf who's been smurfing around the village," Hefty said.
"I know, Hefty," Papa Smurf said. "Everyone here seems to be smurfing about it."
"We also discovered that there's some travelers who smurfed into this village with an act that they called The Little Blue Man," Smurfette said.
"Great Smurfness! You think that they are both Empath?" Brainy asked.
"I have no reason to doubt it, Brainy," Papa Smurf said. "We must find those entertainers. They're our best chance for finding Empath."

That night in the village, Devereaux, Simon, and Stanley were beginning another heist in a new location.
"The usurer is a tavern operator," Devereaux explained as the three humans stood by a barred window that Empath was supposed to enter through. "We will take the opportunity to strip him of some jewelry. According to my information, he keeps it hidden in a cupboard in the attic. Try to bring as much as possible, because this house is the last we will visit in this city. It's becoming too dangerous."
"I understand, Master Devereaux," Empath said, nodding with acceptance.
"Hey! Psst...Stanley! Look over there!" Simon blurted out.
Stanley looked around the corner to what Simon was seeing. "It's the usurer! He's coming home!"
"Quick! Get that elf back!" Devereaux whispered, trying not to draw any attention to the group.
"Too late!" Stanley said, whispering. "He's in the middle of the room!"
Simon shushed the other two as he watched the usurer enter the building with an older bearded gentleman. At this point, the only thing they could do is hope that the Bandit Smurf doesn't get caught.

Meanwhile, inside the tavern, Empath was trying to do his job when he heard the two humans approaching the room he was in. "With the thief roaming the village, there are even more patrols!"
"Great Ancestors!" Empath muttered to himself. There was no time for him to wonder where that expression came from, though. He quickly slipped through another door and hid himself in the next room.
The usurer and the older man entered. "Huh? What is that?" the usurer asked, noticing something on the floor. He picked up the object and examined it. "It looks like a tiny sack."
"Hmmm, very strange," the older man stroked his beard in wonder.
"Aah, it's probably nothing for us to worry about," the usurer said. "Come, let me pour you a glass of spirits before we proceed to serious matters."
Empath exhaled in relief when he heard the two men going off into another room. He could see that he was now in the cellar of the tavern, and that since this heist was going to be ruined, he might as well find another way of escape before he was spotted. He hopped down the stairs to look for another exit, only to find that the entire cellar has been sealed off, even the windows. There was no way for him to escape.
"Hey! Who are you!" a young child's voice cried out. Empath turned and saw that it was a human held prisoner behind a cell, looking a bit ragged and dirty. He quickly ran for cover. "No, wait! I don't mean you any harm! Come back!"
Empath peered out of the corner. He somehow sensed that the boy was sad and lonely. He also felt as if he could empathize with whatever the boy was going through.
"Please, I don't want to be left alone," the boy sobbed.
"It's probably not my business, but why are you smurfed up like this?" Empath asked as he came out of cover to talk to the boy. "You've been naughty?"
"Not at all!" the boy said a bit defensively. "My name is Geoffrey, and I am the son of Lord Caravellan, the duke of this country. I was abducted by the moneylender and his accomplice, the traitor Ganelon, who poses as the friend of my father."
"You were smurfnapped?" Empath said, realizing that sounded somewhat like what had happened to him. He hopped onto the bars of the cell. "I don't know what smurfened to me, let alone who I am or where I smurfed from, but I was smurfed by some humans, and now I'm the Bandit Smurf who must smurf into homes to smurf jewelry, all for the sake of smurfing alive a little mouse."
"Huh? What are you saying? I cannot understand you," Geoffrey said, sounding confused.
Empath somehow sensed that nothing he said made any sense to the boy. "Hold on...I'm going to smurf a way out for you." He hopped down from the bars of the cells and looked around until he found an old bent nail. "Smurfect! This should be able to smurf the lock!"
"Look out! They're coming!" Geoffrey cried out.
Empath hid under the stairs and watched as the usurer and the old man entered the cellar. "What's going on? Who were you talking to?" the usurer asked the boy.
"Uh...nobody, sir! I wasn't talking!" Geoffrey fearfully answered.
"You were probably trying to call for help again," the old man said. "Be careful if you don't want to taste the whip! Anyway, you should know by now that nobody can hear you...all the openings in this cellar have been sealed off. The only thing that can hear you now are the mice."
"If it takes a mouse to deliver my message, Ganelon, then so be it," Geoffrey said. "As for you, traitor, when my father hears of your deceit, he will shut you up in the deepest dungeons, or you will be eaten by rats!"
Ganelon bellowed in laughter at the boy's threat. "Don't worry about me, boy! Before your father learns anything, I'll be miles away from here, with the ransom!"
Empath took this opportunity to hop back upstairs without being seen and exit the tavern through the same window, where the other three humans were waiting for him.
"Well, there you are," Stanley said, relieved to see the Bandit Smurf again. "We really thought that you have been caught."
"Let's not stay here," Devereaux said, making a motion that they should leave.
"What's going on?" Stanley asked. "What's with all this turning around?"
"I don't know," Devereaux answered. "I have the uneasy feeling we're being followed. Tomorrow, we're leaving Abelagot, because the people are too suspicious."

What Devereaux saw in the shadows was Polaris, who arrived at the scene while they were waiting for Empath to leave the tavern. Fortunately for him, the only thing Devereaux saw was his silhouette, which made it hard for him to identify who or what he was. As the three humans were leaving, he was then joined by Papa Smurf and the other four Smurfs.
"Polaris, what are you smurfing here?" Papa Smurf asked.
"This one sensed that Empath was taken to this village, and that there are some things going on in this location that Empath will become a part of, Papa Smurf," Polaris answered. "These humans apparently have Empath in their custody."
"Papa Smurf, they're getting away," Brainy noticed.
"You can smurf us in about the things you have smurfed, Polaris," Papa Smurf said. "For now, though, we must follow those humans and find out where they're smurfing."

Later on, in Devereaux's hideout while everyone was asleep, Empath was sitting in a meditative pose, trying to quiet his mind so he could remember things about his life. So far he realized that he was a person of empathy, who seemed to care more about other people than he did himself. He felt as if he wanted that boy to escape his prison, as if he himself had also been in the same situation.
"Salutations, fellow Empath," a voice from outside the cage said. "You are my friend and you are my Smurf brother."
Empath opened his eyes and saw Polaris Psyche outside the cage. "Who are you?" he demanded. "And what are you doing here?"
"We only came to smurf you out of here, Empath," another voice said, which was Hefty who was opening the lock of the cage.
Then Empath saw Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy, and Grouchy appear. "Empath, we were so worried that we wouldn't smurf you again," Smurfette said.
"Don't call me that," Empath said. "I have a name, and the name is Bandit Smurf."
"Empath, it's your Papa Smurf," Papa Smurf said. "Don't you recognize me? Or any of the other Smurfs here?"
Empath looked at them and then shook his head. "I don't remember smurfing any of you at all."
"Polaris, what's happened to him?" Smurfette asked, sounding worried.
Polaris briefly scanned Empath's mind. "It appears that he is suffering from amnesia, Smurfette. This form seems to have triggered an alternate personality that is causing him to behave differently."
"An alternate personality?" Brainy said.
"He believes that he is the Bandit Smurf, Brainy," Polaris said. "What Empath remembers before this personality took over has been blocked out. There's still traces of his original personality that appear in his current one, so there's a chance that we could restore that personality."
"But how long is that going to smurf?" Grouchy asked.
Polaris sighed. "This one does not know, Grouchy. However, this one would not suggest attempting the revival of that personality while we are in this place."
"I would agree, Polaris," Papa Smurf said. "Empath, we need to smurf you out of here quickly."
"I'm not smurfing anywhere, Papa Smurf," Empath said. "I'm smurfing right here with my friends, as Master Devereaux's assistant."
"YOU'RE SMURFING HERE?!?" the other four Smurfs said in unison.
"That's right! And you'll soon be joining him!" another voice said. It was Devereaux, who was awakened from his sleep by the sound of the Smurfs trying to free Empath. He quickly grabbed the five Smurfs on the table and stuffed them into a bag.
"Polaris! Smurf out of here quickly!" Papa Smurf cried out.
Devereaux tried to grab Polaris, but he was too fast as he flew out of the evil man's reach and hid himself in a place where he couldn't be found.
"Curses!" Devereaux shouted, not liking that one of the "elves" have gotten away.
"Devereaux, what's going on?" Stanley asked as he and Simon were awakened from their sleep by the commotion in the main room.
Devereaux snickered as he held up the sack containing the Smurfs. "We've got some visitors that have now become permanent residents."

By the following day, all six Smurfs were placed in a bigger cage that Stanley had built. Polaris, meanwhile, was still hidden, watching as the three humans convened in the main room with the captured Smurfs, with Devereaux looking out the window in contemplation.
"We don't mean to bother you, Devereaux," Stanley said, "but me and my partner have been wondering if our account has been settled with you. With all these heists we've been pulling with this Bandit Smurf, surely we must have acquired enough to satisfy you."
"Not yet," Devereaux said.
"NOT YET?!?" Stanley and Simon said together.
"What else do we need to do to make sure that our debt is paid in full?" Simon asked, sounding worried.
"There is one more job that I will require of your services," Devereaux said, "and with the elves we have captured, I think they should be enough for us to accomplish the task."
"I thought you wanted us to leave town so that we won't draw any suspicion upon ourselves," Stanley said.
"That was last night," Devereaux said. "But as I was lying on my bed, I was thinking of getting my hands on the greatest treasure in all the land, which will not only settle our debt, but will also make us rich. And there's only one place that I know of that has that treasure."
He showed Stanley and Simon what he was looking at through the window. Stanley gulped when he saw it and realized that was where Devereaux wanted to go. "You mean...Lord Caravellan's castle?!?"
"Exactly that place," Devereaux said. "Lord Caravellan and I used to be close friends long ago. I'm sure he wouldn't mind an old friend paying him a visit, and even at such a time of grief as this."
"Oh dear," Smurfette said, as the Smurfs also looked at the castle. "How are we going to smurf ourselves and Empath out of this, Papa Smurf?"
"I don't know, Smurfette," Papa Smurf said. "At least Polaris hasn't been captured. He can follow us wherever we smurf and be of some assistance. Right now we need to smurf along with these humans and see exactly what they want us to smurf when we get there."
"I only hope we can smurf Empath's memory back," Hefty said. "I liked him better than this Bandit Smurf he's become."
"I hate the Bandit Smurf," Grouchy said.