Chapter 9

Finally they had reached the room where Empath had entered the mazelike passageways of the castle. The rope was still there, but now they had to climb up to the surface before Vladimir reached them.
"Start climbing, Smurfette," Empath directed. "This smurf will steady the rope."
Kicking off her heels, Smurfette grabbed the rope and started climbing while Empath took the rope into his hands and held it steady long enough for Smurfette to make her way up the long shaft to the surface. Halfway up the shaft, though, there was a gnawing sound followed by that of the rope beginning to tear and fray.
"Empath!" Smurfette cried down. "Something's smurfing the rope!"
Empath had a feeling that Vladimir must have sent one of his vampire rats outside into the forest to gnaw at the rope. "Keep trying to climb higher!" he called back up to her.
Suddenly the rope broke, and Smurfette found herself falling back inside the room, screaming for help. Empath caught her in his arms as she fell, knocking them both down to the floor. They quickly picked themselves up and started to think of how else they could escape when they heard sinister laughter from the room's only entrance.
Finally Vladimir came into the room, blocking their only other way out. "There is no escape for either of you mortals," he chortled maliciously. "Smurfette will still be my immortal beloved, whether she wishes it or not, and you, my star-smurfed adversary, will soon become a repast for my rodent minions." He came closer and closer to Smurfette, hoping to bite her neck a third time and make her his vampiress companion.
Empath could hear that dreaded symphony start up again as Vladimir approached Smurfette, entrancing her in his spell. There was only one thing he could do at this point. He quickly whistled the "smurfsong".
Vladimir instantly reacted as if he heard somebody scratching their fingernails against a chalkboard. "Aaaaahh…," he growled, covering up his ears. "Stop that infernal music!"
Smurfette was instantly awakened from the spell of Vladimir's symphony. "Empath, what are you smurfing?" she asked.
"Whistle the smurfsong, Smurfette," Empath directed. "It's the only way to break through his smurphony of the night."
Smurfette did what Empath suggested. She whistled the smurfsong, directing it toward Vladimir, who continued to hold his ears as the charming tune assaulted his eardrums, making him writhe in torment and pain.
Empath knew they couldn't keep Vladimir at bay forever. It was then he noticed that, through the hole in the room's ceiling, a ray of sunlight was slowly peeking in. Morning must be beginning to break, and he remembered that direct exposure to sunlight was the only way to destroy a vampire. But it was aimed only at Empath, and both Smurfette and Vladimir were far to the other side for the sunlight to reach him. How could he get the sunlight over to where Vladimir is to destroy him?
He looked down at his Smurf symbol medallion and flipped it over when the sun's light was reflected off its backside toward Empath's eyes, briefly stinging them. He then realized that the medallion was purposefully polished on its backside to a bright sheen, and knew in that instant what he must do with it.
Empath used the backside of the medallion to reflect the light of the incoming sun, directing its beam straight toward Vladimir. The force of the reflected beam caught the vampire by surprise and knocked him to the floor, screaming as the sun's energy mercilessly burned through his decayed flesh and bathed his soul in its unyielding light.
"NO…it can't be…it must not end like this…!" Vladimir pleaded, struggling uselessly against the power of the light. "You can't stop the music…I am the smurphony…of the night…I am the smurphony…I am…I am…I…!"
Empath and Smurfette watched in horror as Vladimir's form became as charred as used firewood in the beam of the reflected sunlight, and then reduced to ashes that even the slightest winds easily blew away in every direction, until there was nothing left.
Empath and Smurfette continued to look in the spot that Vladimir had occupied, and then stopped to listen as the sounds of the castle had also died down, replaced by the quiet sounds of the morning outside as the forest awakened itself to face the new day ahead.
Empath could now sense his fellow Smurfs back in the village with his minds-eye again. That meant the magic spells Vladimir had used in his castle had worn off on their own.
"Is it over, Empath?" Smurfette asked, as if she needed to be certain herself.
Empath took a look at Smurfette's neck and noticed Vladimir's fang marks had disappeared, and that she was regaining her full skin color again.
He looked Smurfette in her eyes and nodded. "The smurphony of the night is over. You are now free of Vladimir's curse."
Smurfette looked into Empath's eyes and found her own beginning to fill with tears. "Empath, I'm sorry that I got angry with you and smurfed you like that!"
Empath took Smurfette into his arms and let her cry on his shoulder, gently soothing her with his voice. "It was not your fault, Smurfette. There is no need to apologize for anything. This smurf understands how you feel completely."
They remained that way for a long while as the morning light illuminated the room.

Empath and Smurfette had reached the village around the same time that Greedy had just finished serving breakfast. They could see several Smurfs beginning to take down the flowered streamers strung over the streets, dismantling the filtered boxes from the stage, packing up things to be put away for another occasion, and just generally cleaning up. Both of them looked dirty from having to escape the terrors of Vladimir's castle, but they were nonetheless alive and well. During the flight back to the village, Empath had informed Smurfette about her pet Squeaky, whose blood she had ingested and was now purged of, that though he was weakened by her attack, that he would soon recover. Smurfette felt sad that she did such a thing to her cherished pet, but Empath told her that she wasn't herself when she did that, and her pet would understand that.
"I can’t believe such a handsome Smurf like him was a monster who smurfed me like that, Empath," Smurfette finally said, still thinking over what Empath had told her about him. "Although I do feel sad that he would never get to smurf his beloved Elismurfetta ever again."
"This smurf may never fully understand what would drive some beings to such depravity in order to find their true love, Smurfette," Empath stated. "Many brave Smurfs have died so that Vladimir could live in the state he was in, and when all was said and done, Elismurfetta was never found or had returned to him. Perhaps she found it hard as well to choose between her peasant life and the life she could have lived as the queen of Smurvanya."
"I just hope no other Smurf has to smurf through the same thing in the here and now," Smurfette said, sighing.
"This smurf shares your sentiments as well," Empath agreed. He then noticed that Smurfette had something else on her mind now. "Is there something bothering you, Smurfette?"
Smurfette looked at Empath a bit crestfallen. "I just remembered that challenge I smurfed you a few days ago. It's too bad that Smurfstock is all over now. I'll never be able to smurf the happy tune you might have composed!"
"On the contrary, Smurfette," Empath responded, "on the night this smurf went to rescue you, this smurf did come up with an original tune of a happy sort." He saw Hefty and Tuffy carrying Harmony's piano away and asked them if he could borrow it for a bit. They agreed and placed it where Empath and Smurfette were.
Without any further ado, Empath started to play the original tune he composed. As Smurfette listened, it sounded very familiar and yet so original and upbeat. The way Empath played his tune on the piano, he seemed to put a lot of feeling into it.
Smurfette laughed. "Sounds like the smurfsong agrees with you now, Empath," she remarked when Empath finished. "An original interpretation of a classic. Now that sounds better than 'The Smurfy Dance'."
"Well, to this smurf, it is a smurfy dance," Empath replied very enthusiastically. "The smurfsong was fine the way it is, but this smurf thought it needed a bit more bounce to it."
With that, Empath immediately reached out to a set of drums with his minds-eye and started having them beat out a rhythm to go along with his piano playing. Smurfette was even more amused and amazed. His impromptu composition was really beginning to take form now.
Harmony stood and watched in jaw-dropping awe as he listened to Empath creatively giving new life to an old standby, even with his minds-eye. "Now, that is what I call a real smurfy tune you can smurf to!" he managed to say. He felt inspired enough to pick up his horn and play along to the beat, no matter how warbled it might sound in contrast.
Meanwhile, Empath's tune had also attracted the attention of other passing Smurfs, who were busy trying to clean up the village after their three-day celebration of music. They basically didn't expect Empath to be wasting his time composing music when he should be attending his duties as the assistant counselor of the village, much less even being able to create such happy-sounding music. But it had a chain reaction of its own, for some Smurfs started picking up their own instruments and playing along to the rhythm, further adding to the orchestration.
Papa Smurf at this point was busy with Baby Smurf, again giving him lessons on how to talk when he heard Empath's tune being played throughout the village. Baby Smurf heard it as well and started playing along on his kazoo.
"Amazing," Papa Smurf remarked, as he heard both the tune outside and the kazoo playing in time with it inside. He looked outside and saw that every Smurf was getting into the rhythm. He just had that feeling Empath was behind this, so that basically meant Empath had succeeded in bringing Smurfette back alive.
Back in the center of the musical scene, Empath and Smurfette were now dancing with each other as the other Smurfs continued to play for them. "So I wonder how wins this time around?" Smurfette asked, speaking loudly above the music.
"It doesn't matter, Smurfette," Empath answered. "For you, this smurf would serve you breakfast in bed anytime you want this smurf to."
"With a fresh rose from the garden?" Smurfette asked.
"That and with this smurf not wearing a shirt to greet you," Empath said. "Though this smurf was thinking of wearing a tie."
"Oh, Empath," Smurfette laughed, feeling all so giddy. "For a Smurf, you can still smurf a bit of class in whatever you do."