"If you knew Smurfette like I knew Smurfette, then you would love Smurfette, too!"
Empath heard this coming from Barber's hair-smurfing shop, which was where he found Tapper, singing in chorus with Barber, Miner, and Sweepy. They were all dressed up with matching striped vests and bands around their hats. They sounded wonderful for a few Smurfs with slightly different accents, but that wasn't what he stopped over for. Nevertheless, Empath applauded them for their performance as soon as they finished.
"Smurfs like Empath approves of our musical number, mates," Sweepy told his fellow musicians as the four of them took a bow.
"He truly has a better ear for music than his brother Brainy does," Barber said, agreeing with Sweepy.
"Tapper, this smurf wishes to talk to you about something private," Empath requested.
"Great Smurfiny Crickets, Empath," Tapper exclaimed. "You sure don't look like you smurfed here just to hear us crooning away on an old smurfnut of a tune." He properly excused himself and then went to the corner of Barber's shop where Tapper and Empath pulled up some chairs. "Now what's been smurfing on your mind today, pray tell?"
"This smurf is very concerned about Smurfette," Empath explained. "Last night at the Smurfstock festival, a very strange Smurf visited us and courted with Smurfette. She spent the night entertaining his company, and now she is very angry with this smurf for supposedly trying to control her life."
"Ah, it smurfs like you're jealous over a possible rival for Smurfette's heart," Tapper suggested. "If that's all you're feeling, you're in very smurf company. Every Smurf here feels the same way about you and Smurfette, but I smurf no grudges with you over that."
"This smurf doesn't feel jealous about this visiting Smurf, Tapper," Empath continued. "Rather, this smurf feels something rather dangerous about that Smurf, though this smurf somehow cannot see into his mind to find out what his intentions are with Smurfette."
Tapper rubbed his chin in thought over this. "I'm not quite sure what to smurf of that, Empath, but I'm pretty sure Smurfette will eventually smurf him for what he really is. As long as you do not interfere in Smurfette's personal affairs until you are absosmurfly sure of this rival's intent, she will smurf that your concern for her safety is not out of jealousy."
"This smurf understands what you are trying to tell me," Empath said, feeling just a little better about himself. "But has Smurfette always been like this around anyone trying to seduce her?"
"Aye, she's only a Smurf, just like the rest of us, Empath," Tapper answered. "You think she's more easy to smurf under a spell just because she's a girl Smurf, and a beautiful one at that, then you still have a lot to learn about what being a Smurf is." He then glanced over at the other three Smurfs, looking anxious to continue singing. "By the by, I believe my fellow smurfadours wish me to join them in one more song resmurfal. I hope you will smurf for a spell after the last performance of tonight if you wish to smurf more about what's smurfing on with Smurfette."
"This smurf will consider that, Tapper," Empath said, getting up to leave Barber's shop. "This smurf hopes your performance with the Barber Smurf Quartet goes well."
"May the same smurf well for yours, my fellow Empath, if what I hear about you comsmurfing an original piece for Smurfstock is true," Tapper responded.
Empath had almost forgotten about Smurfette's challenge. Apparently, thinking about this Vladimir Smurfula possibly entrancing Smurfette to do very unsmurfy things to her was distracting him from what he promised Smurfette earlier.
He hoped to resolve this problem long enough to fulfill that promise. But he still had no idea on how to make a really smurfy song for Smurfette.
As Empath had walked away from Barber's hair-smurfing shop, he came across Duncan McSmurf and the Smurflings who were approaching him, with Nat carrying around an animal lying on a sheet. "Thank smurfness that we smurfed into you, laddie, because I wasn't sure whether to smurf this problem to either you or Papa," Duncan said.
"This smurf appreciates your concern, Duncan," Empath said. "What seems to be the problem, my fellow Smurflings?"
"We were just smurfing up on Smurfette because we haven't smurfed her all this morning," Slouchy reported, "and we smurfed across her pet mouse Squeaky, smurfing at her door like he was dead or something."
Empath quickly scanned the animal with his third eye. "This animal pet of Smurfette's has suffered a loss of blood, and there's also a bite mark on the mouse's neck, as if whatever attacked him drained his blood through his neck."
"Is Squeaky going to be all right?" Sassette asked, very concerned about Smurfette's pet.
Empath frowned. "Squeaky's lifesigns are very weak, Sassette. This smurf will have to take him to the infirmary in order to treat him and hopefully restore the blood that he lost from this attack."
"What kind of creature would smurf such a thing like this to Squeaky, Empath?" Nat asked.
"This smurf honestly does not know, Nat," Empath replied. "Smurfette herself has probably been attacked in a similar fashion, but by another Smurf calling himself Lord Vladimir Smurfula. He may be responsible for the attack on Squeaky as well, but until this smurf has definite answers, it is best for us to keep such speculations low and not jump to conclusions."
"I just hope Smurfette is all right, Empath, whatever this Vladimir Smurfula smurfed to her," Snappy said, sounding very concerned.
"This smurf will do everything this smurf can to help Smurfette, Snappy," Empath promised.
Duncan followed Empath as he brought Squeaky to the infirmary to begin the recovery process. "I don't like the idea of something or somebody smurfing after Smurfette like this, Empath," Duncan said.
"Hmmm, now this is interesting," Empath said as he examined the bite mark. "This smurf has noticed that the bite mark has the same two holes on the base on Squeaky's neck as those found on Smurfette's neck. But the difference is that the bite mark and the saliva left behind on the mark matches those of Smurfette."
"Michty me, laddie," Duncan said, sounding very surprised. "Could this mean...?"
"This smurf doesn't want to believe it, but judging from the evidence, it appears that Smurfette must have attacked Squeaky in this fashion," Empath said with some foreboding in his voice.
Duncan made a grimacing face that expressed his revulsion. "This is certainly something that would make even a McSmurf lose his lunch just smurfing about it," he said.
"This just makes this smurf even more curious to find out what it is that this Lord Vladimir Smurfula is doing to Smurfette, Duncan, and why it would make her behave this way," Empath said.
The second night of the Smurfstock performances began after sunset. Empath was wearing his usual purple shirt that went with his star-patterned black suit, a little dressed down from the previous night, but still eager to do his job as the master of ceremonies.
Everybody cheered as he took the stage again. "Now here comes the act that most of the fellow Smurfs have waited for. You wanted the best, and they're going to give you the best. The hottest, wildest Smurf musical band in Smurfland…Azrael Rocks!"
Empath felt that little introduction went a bit over the top, the enthusiasm not being quite there from how he felt, but none of the other Smurfs even noticed. They just roared with acceptance as the lead singer took over the stage and the rest of the band kicked the music into motion. "Smurf-door lover, always smurfing 'neath the covers, 'til I smurfed with my Papa who say, said you ain't smurfed nothin' 'til you're smurf on a muffin, then you should've been smurfin' your ways…!"
Papa Smurf stood behind the crowd, watching the performance from a distance. He too was no longer dressed for Smurfstock, choosing to wear his normal red suit instead. Like Empath, his concern for Smurfette was now a priority that had to take some precedence over making sure Smurfstock didn't go out of hand.
"Have you seen Smurfette come out of her house since the sun went down, Papa Smurf?" Empath asked as he joined him far from the crowd.
"No, Empath, I haven't," Papa Smurf answered, shouting above the din. "If she has, I wouldn't know where else she would smurf off to if Vladimir chose to see her elsewhere."
"This smurf can't even sense her now," Empath told Papa Smurf, feeling somewhat frustrated. "Whatever Vladimir did to Smurfette must have been mystical in nature, preventing this smurf from even knowing if she is still alive."
"Smurf this way, smurf this way, smurf this way, smurf this way…!"
"I don't want you to worry about me anymore, Empath," Smurfette said calmly, appearing behind both him and Papa Smurf. "Vladimir is coming for me. I can feel him smurfing through the shadows of the night, ready to smurf me in his arms and take me away to his castle."
Empath and Papa Smurf saw Smurfette now dressed in the most elegant gown that she had ever worn. Neither of them remember seeing Smurfette wearing anything like this, nor did they remember Tailor designing such a gown for her. If it weren't for the fact that her skin was paler than usual, her eyes were now tinted red, and her voice sounded so distant, either Empath or Papa Smurf would have complimented Smurfette for how beautiful she looked that night.
"Just smurf me a kiss…like this!"
"Smurfette, are you sure this is the very thing you want to smurf?" Papa Smurf asked. "All your fellow Smurfs will miss you very much if you decide to leave us to smurf off with that Lord Vladimir. Make sure you know in your heart what you are smurfing."
"I don't need to, Papa Smurf," Smurfette answered calmly. "He is the one Smurf I have waited for all my life. He is my eternal beloved, and I am soon to be his. I am very smurftain of that."
Azrael Rocks had finished their song with a standing ovation, and Empath was ready to take to the stage to announce the next act when a familiar voice rang out…a voice that Empath and Smurfette had recognized.
"Ladies and gentlesmurfs of the peasantry, I wish to dedicate my musical number to the one who shall be my eternal beloved for all time…the fair maiden Smurfette! I call this number 'The Smurphony Of The Night'!"
As Empath and Papa Smurf watched, as did every other Smurf in the audience, the curtains parted and Lord Vladimir Smurfula had taken to the stage, seated at Harmony's pipe organ, ready to play his music. Everybody gasped, while Brainy found himself more than appalled because this act wasn't even on the schedule for tonight.
"Excuse me, whoever the smurf you are," Brainy complained as he approached the stage, "but this musical performance is not on tonight's program, and if you can't smurf your performance for tomorrow, I'm afraid we're going to have to smurf you…"
Vladimir simply waved his hand, causing Brainy to be magically lifted into the air and dumped on his head on the far side of the village limits. Then he proceeded to play.
Most of the other Smurfs just sat there and watched, spellbound, as Smurfette approached the stage and into Lord Vladimir's arms. As the haunting melody began, with nobody even playing the organ, Vladimir and Smurfette danced elegantly all around the stage, swaying and stepping and spinning to the prince's symphony of the night. All the Smurfs were so impressed by this whole unexpected performance, they could only wonder who in the name of Smurf was playing the role of this dark princely romancer. Even Actor, whom the other Smurfs suspected was playing Vladimir, was curious.
Near the end of the serenade, Lord Vladimir pulled Smurfette close to him. "Tonight, you will be my eternal beloved Elismurfetta!" he said to her as he was about to sink his teeth into her neck.
Empath knew what was going to happen and rushed onto the stage. "This smurf will not let you touch Smurfette ever again!" he stated bravely as he approached the prince.
Lord Vladimir was offended by Empath's approach. "Be gone, mortal!" he hissed, attacking Empath with such a fast and powerful kick that caught him by surprise.
Every Smurf watched as Empath sailed high over their heads, apparently out of control, and landed in a mud pit nearby. "Whoa...did you smurf that?" one Smurf asked.
"Yeah, Jokey, that was smurfally cool!" another Smurf said, who was also blown away by what he saw. "We should smurf that same trick!" The both of them chuckled at the thought.
Though covered completely in mud, Empath could see not only the other Smurfs starting to dive off the stage into the crowd below, but also Vladimir and Smurfette transforming themselves into bats and flying off into the night sky.
"Empath, are you all right?" Papa Smurf asked when he saw Empath getting himself out of the mud pit just before a stage-diving Smurf was dumped into it.
"Besides accidentally starting a new trend for Smurfstock, and watching Smurfette being bitten by Vladimir, this smurf is still functioning normally," Empath answered.
That made Papa Smurf scratch his beard in deep thought. He had heard of something like this before, if he only knew where he heard of it.