Part 3

As Traveler watched, Culliford and Lillithina were still wanting to have a child of their very own after several years of watching their fellow Smurfs being able to have children. Every time they themselves have tried, it always seemed to fail, and the village medic continued to give them the bad news. It was as if nature or some higher power was intentionally putting their desire on hold, which left them feeling frustrated and envious. Both of them loved each other very much, but they now questioned whether they would even be able to have children at all.
“Would you still love me, Cully,” Lillithina asked him one night as they were sitting together on the outskirts of the village, watching the stars, “even if I couldn’t smurf you any children?”
“No matter what happens to us, Lilly, even if we smurf old and gray before we smurf our first child, you know that I will always love you,” Culliford replied, holding her hand in his and looking in her eyes, letting her know his promise to her was real.
The two of them smiled at each other as they continued to watch the stars, hoping and praying that a miracle could somehow happen in their lives. They were wondering aloud what kind of child they would have, what that child would be and do, what name he would bear as his identity.
Traveler could see his great-great-grandparents had that kind of love for each other, ever since the two of them had married along with most of their fellow Smurfs 100 years previously. Lillithina was the only Smurf that seemed to care about somebody like Culliford who, though he wasn’t as intelligent as their best friend Aristotle Smurf, he still had a heart that cared for someone like Lillithina, who saw the beautiful female Smurf she was on the inside no matter how plain she looked on the outside. Lillithina especially liked how furry her husband’s face looked, even when his own fellow Smurfs teased him about his beard from time to time. It made him look even more handsome than he did when she remembered him before the beard grew in. In her own opinion, it also made him look more masculine than even the likes of Muscles Smurf with his tattoos. She was hoping some of this would pass on to their son, should their child ever be a son like most of their fellow Smurfs were having.
Then one day, Culliford came home from working with his fellow Smurfs to find his wife at home, smiling a private little smile that held a secret. “So how has your day been, Papa Smurf?” she asked him.
“Papa Smurf?” Culliford asked, curious about her smile and her calling him that. “You mean…?”
Lillithina nodded as she took her husband’s hand and placed it on her stomach, which was now starting to swell a little. Somehow Culliford felt as if he could feel that new life now growing in her.
“Lilly, we did it!” Culliford exclaimed, kissing and embracing her. “We’re going to smurf a Baby Smurf of our very own. All those years of smurfing for this to happen, and it suddenly smurfs out of the blue!”
“You’re going to be a very busy Smurf, my dear Cully,” Lillithina reminded him, tugging at his beard in the way that usually excited him. “Smurfing our house in order for this little one when he or she smurfs into the world. I hope that our baby smurfs out to be just like you.”
“Or maybe she will smurf out to be like you, my sweet Lilly,” Culliford responded, touching his wife’s face so tenderly as the two of them looked into each other’s eyes, smiling and enjoying their company as they allowed the reality of this news to sink in. The one thing Traveler knew for sure was that it would change their lives forever.

Traveler watched as Lillithina’s pregnancy continued to progress through the normal several months that a baby Smurf takes in order to be born. In the history he actually observed of his great-great-grandparents, Lillithina didn’t seem to have any trouble during the time she carried Empath, and rarely did Culliford have to take her to the village medic for anything but a checkup. Here in this alternate history that unfolded, though, Lillithina seemed to go through this pregnancy more like the typical mother Smurf that did, with symptoms such as morning sickness, back problems, and other situations that made both her and her husband wonder if this child was ever going to make it to being born. Lillithina had difficulty sleeping at nights, which eventually drove her husband to sleeping elsewhere in the house – or just elsewhere in the village – so that the both of them could have peace.
And then came the day when their child would be born. As Traveler continued to watch, he again saw Culliford pacing around nervously outside a house, waiting for his child to be born. Soon again the sound of a baby crying came, and soon that other Smurf wearing a green hat and pants, a thin graying beard, and a white smock again came out smiling.
"Congratulations, Culliford, my Smurf," the older Smurf beamed, again shaking Culliford's hand. "Your wife just gave smurf to a bouncing baby boy."
Culliford couldn't believe the news. "Smurfeka...I'm a Papa Smurf! I'm a Papa Smurf!" he cried out in excitement.
Traveler again followed Culliford as he went inside the house less than a minute later. He again saw his wife holding their newborn child in her arms, smiling at both of them.
"We really made magic happen this time, Lillithina, my dear," he commented, again kissing his wife on the forehead.
"I think you made most of the magic happen, Culliford," Lillithina remarked. "Even through all the difficulty we smurfed through having him, he still smurfed it in one piece. If he's a special child, there's no doubt about whom he smurfs after."
"Then that must make you a special Mama Smurf," Culliford said with a slight tease in his voice.
"Could be," Lillithina laughed, again holding the baby so that they could both examine him.
"Well, he's certainly got your eyes and your smile," Culliford pointed out.
"And he's got your ears and your nose," Lillithina added. "But I wonder who's hair color he'll smurf when he grows his first beard?"
"That we'd have to wait 300 years to find out," Culliford reminded her.
“Well, until then, I still have your handsome furry face to smurf at, my love,” Lillithina laughed as she again stroked her husband’s beard lightly. "I'm sure that our little bundle of joy will smurf after his own Papa Smurf." They lifted up the child’s hat as he opened up his eyes, smiling at them. Traveler noticed at that point, to his surprise, that their baby was born with no smurfmark of any kind on his forehead.
“There’s no doubt about it, Lilly,” Culliford said, letting out a sigh of relief, though there was a slight hint of disappointment in that sigh. “He’s smurftainly a special baby.”

From this point on, Traveler started seeing some changes that were affected by this alternate version of Empath who was born with no smurfmark on his forehead. One thing that hadn’t changed, however, was that over the following days, Culliford and Lillithina were showing their newborn child to their fellow Smurfs, and again they were impressed. Culliford's friends again toasted with him over brewed sarsaparilla, while Lillithina's friends again gave her advice about baby care as well as recipes for baby foods and some clothing they thought would look good on her child.
But the change started to show when all the excitement over Culliford and Lillithina having a newborn child had worn off. The baby Smurf they now had to love and nurture as their own showed nothing of a unique personality that made him distinct from all the other baby Smurfs he was being nursed with. It also made it a big problem for them to decide what they were going to name their child. Half their fellow Smurfs who had children were able to come up with names for them within a few days of their birth, while for others it took a month or so for them to draw any such inspiration, which for some certain others meant going as far as looking in the village dictionary. It was fortunate, however, that their parents could tell their children apart at all. Unfortunately for Culliford and Lillithina, having a child with no visible smurfmark on his forehead became more of a problem than it was a blessing.
Culliford did his best to try introducing his newborn son to the world he was born into. He took him to see Muscles Smurf, the village mechanic and carpenter who was the father of Hefty and Handy, so he could see what it would be like to work on machines and furniture. He took him to Baker Smurf, the village cook who was the father of Greedy and Nabby, to see him at work preparing food for everyday meals. He took him to Tiller Smurf, the father of Farmer, to see how the food they eat was grown. He took him to Aristotle Smurf, who would a few years later become the father of Brainy, who read him all sorts of children’s books from the village’s archives, not to mention showing his work as a published author. He took him to Picasso Smurf, who was the father of Poet, Painter, and Sculptor, to see how he makes all sorts of wonderful masterpieces with clay, stone, and paint. And probably against his better judgment, Culliford took his son to see Pranky Smurf, the father of Jokey, who showed him all sorts of gags he has invented and used over the years to fool his fellow Smurfs, though only his wife Trixie laid claim to inventing the exploding gift box that became Jokey’s common prank among his fellow Smurfs.
However, despite Culliford’s efforts, nothing of what he showed his son really brought out anything in the child that displayed any form of uniqueness in him. His son seemed rather content to being a nameless baby Smurf that acted like any other baby Smurf. His constant crying when it came time for feeding, diaper changing, or just needing attention became a common feature in the Culliford household, even to the point where it almost drove him and his wife crazy – even regretting the day when they found out they were going to have a baby.
Then one day, Culliford decided he was going to take his son on a flight over the entire forest, to show him all the wildlife and to see all the mountains and the waterfall, again hoping that it might spark some interest in his son to become something other than just a normal nameless baby Smurf. Lillithina wished them well and to remain safe as the two of them took off together on the back of a stork.
However, as the two of them were busy flying over the forest, taking in all the sights, the clouds above them were starting to get dark, and Culliford could hear the sounds of thunder rumbling. He had a feeling that a storm was brewing, and that they were now in great danger as they felt rain beginning to pour down. He guided the stork to turn around and head back toward the village. But as the stork flew back, a few bolts of lightning began to strike the forest. One bolt was so close that it made the stork swerve wildly in order to avoid being hit. But as the stork swerved, Culliford lost his grip on his infant son, and the baby Smurf plunged from the sky into the tree foliage below.
“Baby!” Culliford cried, watching helplessly as his son fell to what looked like his death. There was nothing he could do at that point but hold on for dear life and make it back to the village in one piece.
Traveler watched as Culliford returned home to his wife, who became upset that such a thing happened when he told her the terrible news. Their fellow Smurfs also heard about the accident, and so they decided to comb the entire forest, hoping that they would find his son, wherever he may be, with the slim chance that somehow he survived the fall. After several days of searching, however, they realized that he was nowhere to be found, and so gave the couple the sad news that he most likely didn’t make it.
Lillithina became so upset she blamed Culliford for all sorts of things that led to the loss of their child, and eventually she ended up leaving Culliford, as she did in the actual history that Traveler knew, to live with Aristotle for a time, who again ended up fathering her second child Brainy. Culliford, again saddened and heartbroken by the loss, ended up living with a friend of his who allowed him the use of his laboratory, and kept himself busy working on various experiments that he never got started on when he was married to Lillithina, living in isolation. He again had a statue made in what would have been his son’s likeness as an adult Smurf, though the facial expression was that of a happy Smurf instead of one who knew his life was forever changed by having to live it in Psychelia. And again, when the statue was finished, Culliford mourned for his son before it.

Traveler was astounded that, despite the change in Empath’s history regarding the lack of being born with a smurfmark and other things, something in that particular history kept certain elements, such as the separation of Empath’s father and mother, pretty much intact. But Traveler still had to wonder – what happened to this version of Empath who was now lost from his father by an accident of nature instead of being forcibly taken from him by the Psyche Master, who now in this timeline was entirely unaware of Empath’s existence?
He headed back out into the forest to find out. He traveled back in history in that timeline to the point around when this alternate Empath fell out of the sky and saw that the foliage managed to break his fall, so that he ended up landing on a thick sturdy tree branch, unconscious. A short while later, a squirrel that was busy scampering to find shelter from the rain found the infant Smurf lying there. Uncertain of what to do, the squirrel decided to take the baby home with him, hoping that it would awaken.
At home in the squirrel’s nest after days of being unconscious, the infant Smurf awakened, apparently hungry. Fortunately, the squirrel who rescued him had a mate who had just given birth to a baby squirrel, so she was able to suckle both her child and the baby Smurf. Soon enough he was able to bond with this squirrel family who somehow simply accepted him as one of their own, though he was a relatively hairless creature compared to them. They gave him fur to shield his body with when he slept, even when the days were cold.
Due to the rather slow aging of a Smurf, however, the young infant Smurf found himself bounced from one family of squirrels to another as he grew to be a young Smurfling. Nonetheless, during those years that he grew among the squirrels, he picked up skills that enabled him to leap from tree to tree with the same agility and speed as a squirrel, and to communicate with the squirrels with the same kind of verbal language they used. He also learned to feed himself with the type of berries and foods in the forest that he alone could eat, though he could only lap up water from the river in a manner similar to a dog. Despite his unique stature, he rarely if ever walked upright, choosing to crawl around in the same way that squirrels do, behaving also in the same manner. It was a way of life for this young Smurf that Traveler wouldn’t have expected to come from this alternate version of Empath.

Traveler journeyed ahead into the timeline up to around 50 years since the alternate Empath’s birth. In the village, he saw the same thing happen just as it did in the actual history that he knew: Culliford’s fellow Smurfs were slowly dying of an unknown incurable disease that was leaving more and more of their children as orphans. Culliford was called to help some of his fellow Smurfs find out what was causing the disease to spread, as well as why he and all the children were spared the ravages of it. But nothing Culliford could do could stop the disease from continuing its course, even through his wife Lillithina.
Traveler saw at that point Culliford sitting by his wife's bedside, looking at her as she struggled for the last several minutes of life left just to tell him something important. Brainy wanted to stay with his mother to the end, but Lillithina sent him outside to play with his fellow Smurfs so that they could have her last moment with her husband alone.
"Brainy has no father to look up to now since Aristotle passed away," she spoke with great difficulty. "Promise me, my dear Culliford, you will look after Brainy while I smurf care of our other son in the hereafter. He's all that I have left to give you!"
"I promise to you I will!" Culliford answered, holding his wife's hand gently. "I want you to know that I'm sorry about what happened to our son."
"I know," Lillithina whispered, "and I forgive you."
Then she drew her last breath and closed her eyes forever. As she did, Culliford wept for her.

As more of Culliford’s fellow Smurfs died, Traveler saw that he was left with more with their children. As much as Culliford yearned to be a father again, he never expected it to happen like this, with more Smurflings than he could handle by himself. Fortunately, those few adult Smurfs that were still alive and active gave him all the help they could give, teaching whatever would be useful for the children to survive. Somehow, they knew that Culliford would outlive them, so they trusted that he would always be there for the children when they themselves would pass on. They also knew that he would help the children grow into adulthood and someday have children of their own so that the village would survive.
Then Traveler saw at some point that Culliford was alone with 97 Smurflings in the village, making a fateful announcement. Most of the Smurflings looked uneasy as Culliford spoke, but they bravely listened.
"My little Smurfs," he said, "from this day on we now face a new way of life in the village. This is going to be as much difficult for you as it will be for me, so I am asking all of you Smurfs to help me. I know some of you are already very skilled in the essential tasks of the village while the rest of you may have little or none of those skills on hand. We will need to learn how to cooperate with each other, learn from each other, smurf out for each other, and just be there for each other. Only by working together can we smurf the strength to carry on and survive, as all of your parents would have wanted you to do. I will do my best to be there for each and every one of you and care for you as my own, because you are all now my little Smurfs."
"Don't worry, Uncle Smurf!" a Smurfling named Handy spoke out. "We'll help you smurf care of things so you won't have to do it all. We'll smurf our best to make you proud of us, won't we?"
"Well, if he is, then I smurftainly will!" another Smurfling named Hefty joined in.
"Count me in, too!" Brainy, the third Smurfling, insisted. A dozen other Smurflings made similar statements, and then finally all the others did the same.
"Uh, just one thing, Uncle Smurf," a fourth Smurfling named Clumsy asked. "What do we call you now?"
Culliford chuckled at the question. "I'm not your Uncle Smurf anymore, Clumsy. From now on, you can just call me Papa Smurf!"
"Papa Smurf?!?" every Smurfling exclaimed.

From that day on, Traveler saw that Culliford as his name died along with the rest of his fellow Smurfs, as the alternate Empath’s father undertook a transformation into his new identity as the Papa Smurf. He spent more hours being awake, as well as an incredible amount of energy, trying to settle every dispute, answer every question, teach every simple task, and just be there for all his little Smurfs at the same time. At first it exhausted him to the point where he wished he could enjoy the restful peace of his wife and his own fellow Smurfs in their graves. But after about twenty years of having to live like this, Papa Smurf and his little Smurfs finally became adjusted to this new way of living, and Papa Smurf became more relieved and friendlier. The day when Papa Smurf just stood back and watched as his little Smurfs took care of everything in the village, after all his trials and tribulations with every single young Smurf, left him feeling proud about what he accomplished through his efforts.
Yet Papa Smurf knew that even a busy leader like him needed time for himself. So when fewer of his little Smurfs needed him for anything, he used what spare time he had to resume his projects in the laboratory, being careful to balance his time between personal work and being a father figure. Despite this, Papa Smurf still felt empty without his son in his life, and unlike what happened in the actual history that Traveler knew, there was nothing that happened in this timeline that was anything like a beacon of hope to change that. Papa Smurf remained perpetually unaware that his son was still alive, yet now living among the animals in the forest and learning how to live like he was one of them.
One day, though, Papa Smurf’s son was scampering through the forest as close to the village as he could. From the treetops that he could look down on, yet nobody could see him in, he was seeing these Smurfs for himself, examining how they lived and, in particular, how they dressed. Being that he lived his entire life up until that point without the need for wearing any clothes, he was surprised that these blue-skinned beings like him even needed to be dressed in just a hat and pants. Yet something in him wanted to identify himself as being like them rather than just being like an animal.
One night, he stole into the village very quietly and took off with a piece of cloth from Tailor’s workshop. He used that piece of cloth to fashion for himself a crude-looking loincloth to cover up the lower part of his body, much as he saw Smurf pants doing the same for the Smurfs in the village, tying it tight around his waist with a strong piece of vine. Then he took some leaves and wove them together in the form of a Smurf hat which he wore on his head.
Then he went down to the river and took a look at himself wearing the loincloth and the Smurf hat. He saw a glimmer of a smile on his face in the reflection, knowing that he now at least resembled a Smurf.