It was near the end of another busy day in the Smurf Village, when Tapper opened up his tavern and started serving his customers the usual drinks they ask for. Some of the Smurfs who were in the tavern with their drinks started playing card games, throwing darts, shooting pool, and trying their hand at Handy’s pinball game machine. A few others were busy looking at the various selections of the record machine, trying to figure out which song they want to listen to. Others just simply sat around and enjoyed their refreshments, trying to take their minds off the work of the day. It was around this time of the day when Empath entered, carrying a copy of the Smurf Village Times with him as usual.
“Welcome, my fellow Empath,” Tapper greeted with a smile. “What may I smurf you this evening?”
“Just the usual glass of sarsaparilla ale and a pencil,” Empath requested.
Tapper got a glass mug and filled it with the cold frothy brown liquid that Empath enjoyed ever since he first tried it during his first visit to the Smurf Village, though admittedly the drink was more potent from the time Tapper reopened the Smurfrock Tavern after being closed for years and renamed it Tapper’s Tavern. He placed both the mug and a pencil on the counter.
“Thanks,” Empath responded as he picked up both the glass and the pencil, taking a sip of the ale.
“By the by, how are things smurfing with your job in the village?” Tapper asked.
Empath sighed. “So far, things are going very…smurfily, as most of the Smurfs are fond of saying. Hardly any problems to deal with between this smurf’s fellow Smurfs. No dire emergenices to take care of. It’s just been…very peaceful.” He unfolded his newspaper and took a look at the articles Reporter and some other Smurfs had written in it.
“It does make you wonder, though, how Smurfs like Reporter can still find smurthing to write about in their daily newspaper,” Tapper commented. “Gargamel, Azrael, and Scruple haven’t been smurfed in the forest since last year, when you led a group of Smurfs on a final assault against him. Hogatha barely smurfs up to smurf us any trouble. Nor have we been bothered much by the likes of Lord Balthazar or even Chlorhydris, that witch that likes to smurf around with people’s feelings to make the world smurf company with her misery.”
“Seems like this one’s presence in the village has made things too peaceful for even the lesser adversaries of the Smurfs to desire bothering us,” Empath observed, finding himself disappointed even in what he was reading. “The likes of Gargamel must have given us something worth talking about during the last years of this smurf being away in Psychelia, always wondering what he’s got planned up his sleeve for our eventual demise when his last plan has failed.”
“Aye, that he has been a source of consmurfation among us, Empath,” Tapper stated glumly. “Though he’s not someone that every Smurf really wants to smurf about, he at least kept us smurfing on our toes, always on the smurfout for his evil presence smurfing about, ready to pounce upon any Smurf. It’s not smurfing that I would really want him to smurf back here anytime soon. But sometimes nowadays it does smurf like there’s a void in our lives that his being smurfed out of forest for good has created.”
“Very strange to hear that a much hated adversary of ours becomes something we don’t appreciate having in our lives to make this living as a Smurf worthwhile until he is gone for good,” Empath surmised. “Come to think of it, this smurf would very much have wanted to confront Gargamel time and again, but now it’s only something that this smurf can only think of doing when Handy and Papa Smurf get the Imaginarium back up and running again.”
“Ah, yes, that place Papa Smurf first smurfed us in the dead of winter when all we had to smurf forward to is snow and more snow,” Tapper pondered. “I’m surprised to hear that he’s smurfing this thing yet another go. What’s he and Handy smurfing with it now?”
“Papa Smurf’s trying to search for some special crystals in the mines that would prevent more than one fantasy to be active when the Imaginarium is being used,” Empath answered. “These crystals may also allow us to stop in the middle of a particular fantasy and pick it back up at another time, among other things.”
“Hmmm, smurfs like someplace that’s going to smurf away some of my customers, Empath,” Tapper said, realizing what the return of the Imaginarium would mean to his business.
“This smurf doubts that Handy and Papa Smurf have any intention of having the Imaginarium compete with your establishment, Tapper,” Empath remarked. “Rather, this smurf believes that it would complement the already-existing entertainment centers of the village, such as your tavern and the Smurf outdoor theatre, each of which provides something rather unique for the Smurfs to experience. Besides, the Smurflings need a place that they could play around in on days when they can’t play outside.”
Tapper sighed. “Well, who am I to smurf in the way of progress around here?” He watched as Empath took his ale, his newspaper, and his pencil to a table by the window, where he was waiting for Papa Smurf to arrive in order to talk to him in private. Tapper rarely saw Papa Smurf talk with any Smurf in his tavern unless it was something really important. But all the same, Tapper knew when to keep his distance from such conversations.
Just then, Duncan came into the tavern. "A tall glass of your finest sarsaparilla ale, laddie," he requested as he approached the counter.
"Aye, one glass smurfing right up for you, my fellow Duncan," Tapper said as he went to fill his friend's order.
Duncan received his glass and took a big swallow of the frosty brown ale. "Busy night tonight in your tavern, given that Handy's trying to fix that Imaginarium so that the laddies can smurf their own kind of fun by smurfing under the hat of a fair maiden Smurfette, if you know what I mean," Duncan commented.
"I'm not entirely comfortable with that kind of thought, Duncan, that Papa Smurf may have smurfed a brothel of sorts in our own Smurf Village just so the Smurfs can enjoy that kind of fantasy," Tapper said with some distaste in his voice.
"I know that it must smurf against your religion, but what else can we smurf with a bunch of young pups who are all smitten by the love bug with only one Smurfette they can smurf their hearts to?" Duncan said.
"I must admit that getting Smurfette out of my mind is very difficult, but all the same, I would rather not dishonor either the Almighty or our dear Smurfette by acting out a fantasy of me smurfing that kind of private moment with her, Duncan," Tapper said.
"If that's how you want to smurf about your own private business, then so be it, laddie," Duncan said. "I can't help feeling that I would want to be smurfing with her among the ancient members of the McSmurf clan up in the highlands of that distant island where we smurf from."
"I have a feeling in my spirit that you and I may someday return to those lands where our clans smurf from, though it may not be in the way that we would want to smurf it," Tapper said.
"Don't tell me that this is one of those things that the Almighty smurfs you when you're alone with Him," Duncan said, sounding displeased.
"I can never be certain what it is that the Almighty smurfs me that concerns our future, Duncan, but I never want to find myself smurfing away from Him when it's something very important, a prophecy that we may all have to smurf heed to for our safety and well-smurfing," Tapper said.
"I'll be smurfing by you, no matter what happens or how things smurf out," Duncan said as he took another sip of his ale.
A short while later, Papa Smurf had entered the tavern. “What can I smurf you for this evening?” Tapper asked as the village leader approached his counter.
“Smurfberry tea, hot, please,” Papa Smurf requested.
“Aye, coming right up, Papa Smurf,” Tapper said, happy to take his order. He fetched a tea cup from behind the counter, poured some hot water in it, and dipped a tea bag into the water. He gave Papa Smurf a spoon that he could stir up the tea with as well as a sugar bowl full of cubes. Papa Smurf dropped two cubes of sugar into his tea, stirred up the sugar and the tea, then took a sip before nodding to Tapper, satisfied with his order.
Taking his tea with him from the counter, Papa Smurf joined Empath with his glass of sarsaparilla ale at a table by the window. Empath was busy passing the time doing one of Brainy’s daily crossword puzzles in the village newspaper. So far he was able to get most of the words in the puzzle, yet Empath was amazed by the extensiveness of his half-brother’s vocabulary, for there were still words in the puzzle not yet filled in that left Empath wondering what they could be. It was one of the few things from Brainy’s creation that he enjoyed thoroughly.
“So, Empath, what’s smurfing on that you need to smurf a talk to me about?” Papa Smurf asked curiously as he sat down across from Empath at the same table, drawing his attention away from the crossword puzzle.
“Nothing of any major importance regarding the things that happened in the village today, Papa Smurf,” Empath answered, placing his pencil and the newspaper down on the table. “Just a question about this smurf’s past that has been on this smurf’s mind as of lately that this smurf can’t let go of.”
“I thought I smurfed you everything you needed to know about your past, Empath,” Papa Smurf wondered, feeling a little uncomfortable about going back to the same subject one more time.
“You did, Papa Smurf, and though this smurf was angry at you for what you have told this smurf, this smurf has learned to accept those things and has forgiven you for what you have done,” Empath stated. “However, this smurf still wonders about what you have told this smurf years ago as an infant the day that you have left this one in Psychelia.”
“That I wished that you could have been smurfed as a normal Smurf?” Papa Smurf guessed, seeming to know where Empath was getting at with his question. “Believe me, Empath, it was one of those things I smurftimes wished I have never smurfed to you, though having to smurf you behind there did make me wonder.”
“This smurf is wondering myself if you still wish at times that this smurf could have been born as a normal Smurf instead of one who has these minds-eye abilities that required this smurf being sent to Psychelia in order to be trained to use properly,” Empath said with some uneasiness.
Papa Smurf sighed, uncertain of what to tell Empath. “There were days when you were not around in the Smurf Village between your visits when I smurftimes wished that same thought, Empath,” he confessed. “But now I have smurfed to the conclusion that if you haven’t been smurfed with those abilities, you would never be the Smurf you are now, even with what I have smurfed with you all those years ago. You see, while I had the choice of whether I wanted to be a wizard or not when I was smurfing with Paladore as a young Smurfling, your special abilities were smurfed upon you at birth. But regardless of whether or not we chose to have those abilities, we still have to smurf a choice as to how we wish to smurf them. As one of the famous Smurfs of old have said, with great power comes the greater responsibility of smurfing them for the greater good. Your training in Psychelia has supposedly smurfed you with the discipline of smurfing your minds-eye abilities for the sake of your community, whether it was your fellow Psyches or your fellow Smurfs. And while I have smurfed you how to become an individual during your visits, yet you have chosen of your own free will to smurf what you have smurfed in Psychelia for selfless purposes instead of selfish desires. It’s one of those things I have smurfed in you that lets me know that you will smurf a fine leader of the Smurf Village someday.”
Empath nodded with some understanding. “Maybe that is just what this smurf wanted to hear from you, Papa Smurf,” he spoke, “that this smurf actually has worth in this world this smurf was born into.”
“Empath, even if you weren’t smurfed with any of your powers, that would not smurf me love you any more or less as a son of mine,” Papa Smurf declared with some sympathy, holding Empath’s hand with his. “You could have smurfed your entire life out in the wilderness being smurfed by animals and smurfing through the trees like one without your powers, and yet I would still have loved you because you are the one thing my love for your Mama Smurf Lillithina has prosmurfed, and I would not smurf back one moment of loving her with all my heart to make sure you smurfed into the world just as you are, however way you smurfed into the world. The one thing Lillithina wanted was to make smurf a little bit of what she loved in me was in you as well.”
“Well, this smurf is still years away from growing my first set of whiskers, which this smurf could sense from you was one of the things my Mama Smurf loved about you, Papa Smurf,” Empath said with a hint of jealousy.
Papa Smurf chuckled at that thought, remembering those moments Lillithina loved playing around with his beard when they were alone together. “Yes, well, there was a heart behind this face that your Mama Smurf loved more than the whiskers, Empath, a heart that loved Lillithina just as she was, even though she wasn’t the most beautiful Smurfette to look at in the world at that time. I have a feeling Smurfette smurfs the same thing in you for her, the way you two smurf around each other. I don’t think she needs to smurf you growing a beard in order for her to love you any more than she does for you now.”
“This smurf just wants her to be happy with whoever she wishes to give her heart fully to, even if it isn’t with this smurf,” Empath confessed. “This smurf may feel heartbroken, but this smurf isn’t going to hold a grudge with whomever that Smurf is that she wishes to share her entire life with.”
“That’s one of the risks about love for a female Smurf, Empath,” Papa Smurf admitted, taking a sip of his tea which was now starting to cool down. “Being able to smurf the one you love smurf up her own mind and let her heart smurf wherever it leads to, and not expecting anything in return for the love you smurf her, isn’t an easy thing to smurf. But as long as you’re willing not to smurf up on the one you love, she may someday smurf for herself the kind of Smurf you are, and that may smurf her heart to you.”
Empath nodded to that as he took a sip of his sarsaparilla ale, accepting the truth about what Papa Smurf had said about love. “This smurf apologizes for asking you to talk to this smurf about something that has nothing to do with important tasks of the village, Papa Smurf.”
Papa Smurf smiled at Empath. “There’s nothing about what you smurfed me that you need to feel sorry for, Empath. Your curiosity about yoursmurf is one of the things I enjoy smurfing to you about, even if it results in smurfthing I’d rather not see you smurf again like the time I smurfed to you about your true past.” He decided to let the matter drop and turned his attention to what Empath was doing with the newspaper. “Hmmm… smurfs like Brainy’s been smurfing some real stumpers in his latest crossword puzzle. Mind if I take a smurf for myself?”
“Not at all, Papa Smurf,” Empath replied, handing Papa Smurf the paper.
Papa Smurf took Empath’s pencil and furrowed his eyebrows as he studied the puzzle’s clues and the words that Empath had already filled in. Though Papa Smurf wasn’t quite the puzzle addict that Empath was, Empath knew that his father enjoyed being challenged from time to time trying to figure out words to fill into Brainy’s crossword puzzles. In fact, he seemed to enjoy it more than reading one of Brainy’s quotation books.
Papa Smurf found a few words that Empath had missed and filled them in.