Inside the mysterious castle, Nimble and Cadence were put to work along with two other humans already inside, scrubbing the floors. "Here at Castle Captor, you must work for your keep," the voice of the castle spoke. "That means no scrub, then no grub!"
"Oooh, I'm getting so sick of hearing this castle speak!" Nimble groaned as he heard it laugh maliciously again.
"Well, that does it!" Cadence huffed, stopping his mopping. "Haunted castle or not, I'm getting out of his place!"
"I'm afraid that's impossible," the old man with the goatee spoke. "Prince Paisley and I have been this castle's captives for about 500 years, and we haven't found a way to escape this dreadful place ever since."
"You've been here for 500 years?" Nimble asked, incredulous. "Surely you must be jesting about being in here for that long!"
"Alas, Baron Wattnot and I speak the truth," the young boy with the crown replied. "We don't know how, but inside this castle nothing ever ages. I'm still the same young man that I was when we both became its prisoners."
"Every 500 years, this castle appears out of nowhere at this specific place," Baron Wattnot explained. "It seduces whoever comes to the Crossroads Of The World to enter its gates, only to abduct innocent travelers like yourselves and make them its prisoners, all to make them do its dirty work."
"And soon," the castle spoke, shaking the four humans inside and causing them to fall to the floor, "I will disappear for another 500 years...with you still inside me...forever!!!"
Baron Wattnot sighed with resignation. "Such is the fury of this evil castle, my young friends. If you have a god, pray to him now that he may shed his mercy upon your souls to grant you deliverance from his horrible place."
Soon all four of them heard a large bell being rung. "What's going on?" Nimble asked, rather confused.
"The castle has spotted one of the other prisoners trying to escape from his terrible clutches," Baron Wattnot answered. "He's going to stop her."
"Indeed I have," the castle responded. "It's that troublemaker in the tower trying to escape again. I'll show here that's futile to escape from Castle Captor."
For some perverse reason, the castle showed the humans through a vision what was going on. Up in a high tower, through a barred window, a shadowy figure was flying a kite up into the sky. The castle caused one of the gargoyles perched on the roof of the tower to come to life, swiping its paws on the string of the kite to snap it loose.
"Now watch your hopes of escape...and your kite...fly away without you!" the castle chortled as the kite sailed out of reach.
"Heavens to Mergatroid!" Nimble exclaimed. "If that prisoner in the tower couldn't escape from this place, how can we even hope to escape it ourselves? We don't stand a chance!"
"Then we'd better start praying for somebody who will come along and rescue us while there's yet time," Cadence said fearfully.
Meanwhile, out in the forest, in an open space near a nice shady tree, Empath and Smurfette were enjoying a nice afternoon picnic when the strange color-changing sky appeared. Empath had went on this picnic without wearing a shirt because Smurfette wanted Empath to go an entire day of not needing to hide himself as he usually did -- not that she didn't personally enjoy seeing Empath not wearing a shirt, but she did want him to no longer feel embarrassed around even his fellow Smurfs in that state.
"Oh, Empath, isn't this the most beautiful day that we could ever smurf a picnic on?" Smurfette exclaimed as she was now watching the sky with Empath. "Just look at the sky...smurfing all those beautiful colors like a kaleidosmurf. I could just smurf here all day and watch the sky. I don't think I have ever smurfed such a beautiful sight like this before."
"Truth to tell, Smurfette, this phenomenon reminds this smurf of the Aurora Borealis that Grandpa Smurf had seen near the Arctic Circle during his travels through the world," Empath stated, entranced by the sight. "This smurf would give anything to see it for real for myself."
"Maybe we could ask Grandpa if we could borrow his balloon and go smurf there to see the Aurora," Smurfette suggested.
"You think that Grandpa would allow us to use his magic balloon just for a private trip, Smurfette?" Empath asked.
"Well, you could smurf the flying part yoursmurf, Empath," Smurfette answered, looking at Empath. "But I'm afraid that it would smurf you out by the time we smurf there."
Empath chuckled as he looked at Smurfette. "Your point is well taken, Smurfette. This smurf will ask Grandpa Smurf about the use of the balloon for a trip to the Arctic Circle."
"Good," Smurfette beamed. "Then I hope you don't mind if we also let Wild Smurf come along with us on the trip. I'm sure he would enjoy smurfing outside the forest for a day."
"Wild Smurf?" Empath asked, sounding uncertain. "This smurf had thought that this was going to be a trip for the both of us to go alone on, Smurfette!"
"You wouldn't let one of your best friends in the village, who's just as handsome as you are, smurf along on a trip with a lady like me?" Smurfette asked.
"Well, of course, this smurf will let him come along, Smurfette," Empath responded. "If that will make you happy, then I'm sure Wild will enjoy the company."
Smurfette noticed the look on Empath's face. "Empath, you smurf as if you seem threatened by Wild being mentioned by me. I hope you're not jealous of me wanting to smurf my time with him."
"Smurfette, you have the right to be with any Smurf that you want to," Empath said. "This smurf doesn't want to stand in your way, and this smurf doesn't want to control you. It's just that this smurf is frightened because this smurf does not want to see you get hurt...not by this smurf and not by any other Smurf. This smurf cares for you too much to ever do anything that would hurt you."
"I know that by now, Empath," Smurfette responded, touching Empath's face to make sure he knew as they turned toward each other. "You should know that I would never smurf anything to hurt you in any way. You've been a very special Smurf to me ever since we have smurfed four years ago. In that time, I have smurfed you grow into the kind of Smurf that I hope to marry someday. And in turn, you have helped me smurf things about mysmurf that I have never though possible. I'd never trade any of those moments we smurfed together for anything else in the world...not even this day, when you bravely decided to smurf on a picnic with me without a shirt!"
Empath chuckled. "It's one of those things you enjoy of this smurf!" They both leaned toward each other to kiss, but they barely touched each other's lips when they both heard Polaris speaking to them in their thoughts.
Empath! Smurfette! Where are the two of you?
We're here in the forest on our picnic, Polaris! Smurfette responded.
We're rather busy in a private matter, Polaris! Can't it wait? Empath asked.
Papa Smurf has need of you to return to the village immediately, Polaris answered. We may need you to keep the village under control if this weather pattern we're seeing gets any worse.
This smurf acknowledges, Empath said.
Smurfette sighed. "Well, there smurfs our picnic date, Empath."
"This smurf fears so, Smurfette," Empath replied. "Polaris must be sensing that this weather pattern may be a prelude to something terrible."
"I just hope it isn't one of Tapper's doomsday predictions that's smurfing true on a day like this," Smurfette said as she helped Empath pick up things to put back into their picnic basket.
"Tapper isn't the kind of Smurf who makes foolish predictions, Smurfette, but we might as well prepare for the worst," Empath commented as he folded up the blanket and put it into the basket. "At least we had a good time today for what little time we spent it together. Hopefully we will have more time that we can spend alone in the future if fate permits us to have more time."
With Empath and Smurfette now ready, Empath used his minds-eye to fly them both back to the village.
"I hope that, wherever Wild is in the forest, he's smurfing care of himsmurf and smurfing his squirrel family safe from whatever's smurfing next," Smurfette said as they passed over the forest.
Empath sighed. "This smurf hopes he is doing just that."
Down in the forest, Wild was standing near his treehouse, looking up at the sky with all the strange colors, wondering what is going on. Ever since he met the Smurfs about half a year ago, everything he knew about himself as the "furless blue squirrel" was changed forever. In fact, ever since Empath touched his mind and enabled him to be able to speak coherently in the language of the Smurfs, even his thought patterns have changed. Yet for all the changes that took place, Wild felt that his true home will always be out in the forest with his first family, the squirrels. He did admit that Smurfette was such a beautiful creature that he wanted to someday marry, but he honestly didn't know what Smurfette really saw him as besides just being another Smurf.
As he continued to watch the sky, he saw an orange leaf-shaped object fall, drifting toward his treehouse. Wild fearfully ducked for cover at first, avoiding the object as it just harmlessly landed on the walkway. Then he picked it up and examined it. It felt all furry, and there was some writing in the center that he couldn't make out, even with the limited knowledge he had of the Smurf language.
Wild then saw Grandpa Smurf below on the ground heading toward his treehouse and ready to pass it. He decided to ask him about the strange object that fell from the sky.
"Grandpa Smurf!" Wild shouted, jumping down straight in front of the elder Smurf. "Smurf what I have smurfed!"
Grandpa Smurf was startled. "Smurfadiddle, Wild, you could have smurfed me a smurf attack by just smurfing at me like that!"
"Sorry, Grandpa," Wild said. "I was just smurfing the strange sky when this leaf-shaped object smurfed onto my house." He showed Grandpa Smurf the object in question.
"Why, that's a kite, Wild," Grandpa Smurf answered, "a toy that your fellow Smurfs have smurfed with in their younger days. Let me have a smurf at it." He took the kite from Wild and examined it. "By smurfy, this kite is all knitted...and what's strange is that I haven't smurfed this kind of knitting for about 500 years now!"
"The writing, Grandpa!" Wild exclaimed, jumping up and down. "Smurf at the writing that's on the kite! It may be some sort of message!"
"Smurf your horses, Wild, and let me smurf it for myself! I'm not as fast a reader as some of your fellow Smurfs are." Grandpa took a close look at the message and noticed it was written in a form of Smurf language he hadn't seen in about 500 years. In fact, the style of writing was more reminiscent of the Smurf language he had seen used on Smurfling Island back in the days when he was Smurfling Pan with the Lost Smurflings, rescuing Wendy Smurfling from the clutches of Captain Smurfhook. He was startled when he knew instantly who it was that wrote the message, and his eyes were wet with tears. "Oh, forces of nature and time that smurf this forest...let this smurf of good news be true!"
"Grandpa, you are crying!" Wild mentioned. "What is smurfing on?"
Grandpa tore the message from the center of the kite. "Sorry, Wild, but this old Smurf's got to get smurfing! There isn't time to lose!" With that, he raced further and further into the forest.
"Grandpa? Grandpa, where are you smurfing? Hello?" Wild asked.
But Grandpa Smurf was gone.
Polaris was standing in the center of the village, waiting for Empath and Smurfette to arrive, when he was joined by Duncan McSmurf. "So what do you think of the strange colored sky that's smurfing above us, laddie? Quite an interesting view, yes?" Duncan asked.
"It is a fascinating phenomenon that would be worth studying for as long as it would be present for us to witness it, fellow Duncan," Polaris said. "Unfortunately, this one is unavailable at this current time to do anything else besides relaying important information to Empath concerning Papa Smurf."
"The poor boy Tapper thinks this whole thing is smurfing to be the end of the world, from what he smurfs out of that holy book of his, Polaris," Duncan said. "Surely you're not smurfing the same thing yourself, that this might be the will of the Psyche Master and those Great Ancestors you keep worshiping."
"This one highly doubts that the Psyche Master or the Great Ancestors have anything to do with the appearance of this atmospheric condition, Duncan," Polaris said. "Their primary purpose is to help Psyches to become obedient and faithful in all things regarding their designated roles in Psychelia. Why the Psyche Master would create such a phenomenon in order to achieve that particular goal is something that this one would be at a loss to discern."
"Well, whoever's smurfing this thing in the sky, it certainly has my attention," Duncan said. As he continued to look up in the sky, he noticed something. "Ah, here comes Empath and Smurfette."
Polaris watched as Empath and Smurfette dropped from the sky and landed before him. "This one apologizes for the interruption of your 'private matter', though this one senses that it was pleasurable," Polaris said.
"We smurfed a very good time on our picnic, Polaris," Smurfette answered.
"I would have to smurf that it was, Smurfette, if the laddie's smurfing the whole day with you without a shirt on," Duncan hinted.
"This smurf has sensed that Papa Smurf has left the village before we came," Empath said as he looked around and noticed there was no sign of the village leader.
"You are correct, Empath," Polaris responded. "He and several other Smurfs have headed off into the forest to Wild's treehouse in order to find out where Grandpa Smurf had gone off to when he just suddenly left the village."
"Grandpa Smurf has been known to be rather secretive at times when it comes to things he wouldn't share even with Papa Smurf," Empath observed. "Did you sense anything about him that would make him just go off into the forest like that, Polaris?"
"Only that the current climate condition reminds him of a day about 500 years ago that is rather painful for him to recall, Empath," Polaris reported. "There is a certain somebody on his mind that was involved in that particular day that he assumed was lost, but this one couldn't probe into his mind to find who that certain person is he's concerned with."
"Oh dear," Smurfette moaned sympathetically. "That's a terrible thing for Grandpa Smurf to have smurfed through."
"He's smurfed through lots of things before during his travels, Smurfette," Duncan said. "I'm not sure why this time would be anything different for him."
"Well, whatever it is, Polaris, this smurf is certain that Papa Smurf will get to the bottom of Grandpa Smurf's departure..." Empath began to say, only to find himself interrupted by the untimely appearance of Reporter Smurf and his cameraman.
"Great, just what we need...to have ourselves be smurfed on the daily news for others to smurf," Duncan said with some disgust.
"Ah, just the smurf we have been smurfing for!" Reported exclaimed. "Empath has just arrived with Smurfette to the onsmurfing scene of our mysterious weather pattern that's smurfing high above us in an endless tasmurfy of color." He pointed his microphone in front of Empath. "Is there anything you'd like to smurf to our viewers, consmurfing the unusual kind of weather that's attracting every Smurf's attention right now?"
Empath didn't like having Reporter put him on the spot to say anything on the window-vision, even for just entertainment sake, but as the assistant counselor he had to say something.
"Just stay close to the village in case the weather turns for the worse," Empath said. "And please don't spend too much of your free time just watching the window-vision."