Tapper was in his tavern by himself, engaging in a private prayer session, when he heard a knocking on his door. He opened it and saw that it was Polaris Psyche.
"Greetings, Polaris Psyche," Tapper said as soon as he saw who it was. "What is on your mind that I can help you with?"
"This one senses that you seem rather fearful of the unusual atmospheric phenomenon that is currently taking place over the village, fellow Tapper," Polaris said. "Is there something this one can do to help allay your fears?"
"I appreciate your concern for me, my fellow Polaris, but I am fine right now," Tapper said as he allowed his friend to enter the tavern. "Well, actually, as fine as one can be when they're expecting the Almighty to smurf up anytime soon because of this sign in the sky."
"This one senses that you're convinced that this may be a fulfillment of what has been prophesied in your holy scriptures, but this one has to wonder how you will handle the possibility for disappointment that this Almighty of yours will not show up at the same time as the 'sign in the sky'," Polaris said as the two sat down at a table together to talk.
"I am quite aware that this may be just one of those signs that smurf in the sky before the Almighty returns, and that the time of His return may still be afar off in the future, for as Peter the apostle says, a day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day," Tapper said. "However, we as believers in the Almighty are not to be lax in smurfing for His return like those who have lost their faith and declared that things will smurf on like they have since the beginning of creation. Whether it happens now or later, we must always try to smurf a life that is found pleasing and righteous before the Lord so that we will join Him when He comes to smurf the living and the dead."
"This one admires your steadfastness with a faith in something that cannot be seen, heard, or even touched like the guardians of the forest that the Smurfs have put their faith in, Tapper," Polaris said. "This one only hopes that your faith will someday be rewarded, and that others can also see for themselves the reality of what you believe in."
"I'm still praying that you may someday smurf your peace in the One who has loved you from the beginning of creation, Polaris, though given what time we may have left, it's not impossible for a miracle to happen where the Almighty will open your eyes to the truth," Tapper said.
"This one appreciates your efforts, but this one still does not feel the need for a savior of any kind to rescue this one from whatever imagined punishment may be in store for this one, if there truly is such a thing as a 'day of reckoning' for all creatures, fellow Tapper," Polaris said.
"I will not need to persuade you if that's how you feel," Tapper said. "Only the Almighty has the power to convince you that what I've been smurfing you from the holy book is true."
Suddenly Tapper and Polaris could hear not only the thoughts of every Smurf in the village, but also the thoughts of Empath in their heads. Great Smurfiny Crickets, Polaris, Tapper thought, it seems that Empath has activated the mindlink again.
Empath needs help in getting the humans out of that haunted castle, Polaris thought.
The humans? But what about the Smurfs who are in the castle? Smurfette thought.
We are Smurfs, lassie, and we need to smurf care of others before ourselves who may be in danger, Duncan thought.
Well, what are we smurfing for? Let's open our minds and let Empath smurf his thing to get them out, Handy thought.
And so all the Smurfs in the village joined their thoughts together as one collective conscience, and as they did, Empath could feel his power increasing. Snappy, whose mind was also joined with the Smurfs in the village, watched as Empath concentrated all his accumulated power into stabilizing the castle to keep it from disappearing.
Inside the castle, Cadence, Nimble, Prince Paisley, and Baron Wattnot noticed that everything in the castle had stopped moving, and that the front gate had now just opened. "What's going on? How did this happen?" Nimble asked.
"No time to wonder how, my friends," Baron Wattnot said. "Let's get out of the castle while we have the chance."
"I hope that our little blue friends would also find their way out of here," Prince Paisley said as the four of them ran out of the gate and across the drawbridge.
Snappy watched as the four humans escaped from the castle. Empath, you did it! Those humans are now free, he thought. Now if we could only help the Smurfs do the same...
"What's this?" the castle spoke. "Somebody's trying to keep me from disappearing, I can sense it. Well, too bad for you...you will never stop Castle Captor from vanishing."
Suddenly Empath could feel the increased power weakening, as the strain of concentration was too much for him and his fellow Smurfs to continue bearing, until finally he let out a sigh of exhaustion. "The mindlink has been deactivated, Snappy," Empath said as he was catching his breath. "We won't be able to exert enough mental energy to help the other Smurfs escape."
"Then it's up to this Almighty that Tapper believes in to help the other Smurfs, because there's nobody else who can smurf them now," Snappy said.
Grandpa Smurf and Nanny hid themselves within a urn, from which Grandpa watched as the guards continued their patrol of the hallways in search for the two Smurfs. "I know those two tiny troublemakers are hiding somewhere in this corridor, so make sure that you look carefully in every place that you go," the castle told the guards.
"Well, we smurfed in every nook and cranny of this crazy castle, and he's nowhere to be found," Grandpa Smurf said as he peeked out of the urn to see if the coast was clear. "It's time to save our own smurfy skins." But as Grandpa turned to look to see what Nanny was doing, he was exasperated. "Confound it, Nanny, how can you be knitting at a time like this?"
"Oh, stop complaining, you old windbag, and smurf me some of your hot air," Nanny said as she produced a couple of decoys resembling herself and Grandpa Smurf that she knitted up. "Remember how we fooled Captain Smurfhook one time when we were both young Smurflings on that island?"
"Your knitting sure smurfed in handy to smurf up those decoys, Nanny," Grandpa Smurf said, fondly remembering those times. "I sure hope that they can smurf the same job now."
"I already borrowed your roller skates, so let's get this plan smurfing," Nanny said as she peered out of the urn and saw that the coast was clear. They both jumped out with the decoys and Nanny started to puff into both of them so that they could be inflated to full size.
"Hey, tin head, we're over here," Nanny shouted as soon as she and Grandpa pulled the cork on the decoys to let them loose. The guard turned its head and saw the decoys rolling down the hallway. It began its pursuit of the decoys, with the castle shouting, "After them! Don't let them get away!"
But as the decoys reached the stairs, the guard tripped and fell down, losing its footing. Nanny and Grandpa both heard the suit of armor falling to pieces as the guard fell to the bottom of the stairs, unable to get up afterward.
"Ooooh, good help is just so hard to find," the castle groaned when he realized he lost one of its guards.
Grandpa Smurf chuckled. "Smurfatootie, Nanny, you sure do smurf a whopping good yarn."
"That vent up there is only one of two openings in the castle that lead outside, Grampers," Nanny said as she pointed to the one she saw above their heads in the corridor. "Now all we have to do is to figure out how to smurf up there."
Grandpa Smurf pulled off his backpack. "Leave this one to me, Nanny. I may not be able to fly us up there like I could when I was Smurfling Pan, but I do have some other ways."
Soon Nanny was riding on the back of Grandpa Smurf as he was using suction cups to scale up the walls of the highest tower to get to the magic balloon that was anchored at the top.
Nanny laughed. "I really have to smurf it to you, Grampy, you really outwitted this nitwitty castle."
"We wouldn't be able to smurf this far without your quick thinking, Nanny, and of course your smurfy yarn," Grandpa Smurf responded.
"I only wish that I could have found my special friend, because I'm sure going to miss him," Nanny said, sounding tearful.
"Don't worry, Nanny," Grandpa Smurf said. "Your friend probably already escaped with those humans."
"Oh, I hate to shake things up, but you'll never escape Castle Captor," the castle said as the two Smurfs both reached the top of the tower. As Grandpa Smurf threw off the suction cups he was wearing, the both of them were attacked by a stone gargoyle that approached them.
Nanny fearlessly dealt with the gargoyle by reaching into her knitting bag and pulling out a ball of yarn to twist around the gargoyle's mouth until it was sealed shut. "Oh, zip your lip, you stone golem," she snapped before the gargoyle started to fall down the roof.
"Well, Nanny, you sure smurfed a mouthful," Grandpa Smurf said as he helped Nanny get into the magic balloon.
"Look, Grampers, the humans made it out too," Nanny said as she saw the humans far outside the castle waving goodbye as it was now disappearing from sight. "It may take another 500 years, but mark my smurfs, I will see my special friend again."
"I'm sorry that we couldn't find him, but it's time that we smurfed you home, Nanny," Grandpa Smurf said as he took to the controls of the magic balloon to get it going so it would head away from the castle.
"Smurfaroonie, Grampy, I haven't seen you smurfing around in this thing before," Nanny said. "You've got to show me how it smurfs if we're going to be smurfing in it together."
"Well, this handle here controls the air that gets smurfed into the balloon, and it also controls its direction," Grandpa Smurf started to explain. "It's also got its special magic words that you can use to..."
"Help, Grampy Smurf!" a little girl's voice called out.
Grandpa Smurf left the controls and looked down at the tower to see that Papa Smurf and several other Smurfs were on the rooftop, also waving and calling out for Grandpa Smurf to rescue them.
"Great smurfs in the morning, how did they get up there?" Grandpa Smurf exclaimed.
"Grandpa, come back!" Papa Smurf cried out.
"Save us, Grampy!" Sassette whined.
"Papa Smurf, more of the castle is starting to disappear," Brainy said as the roof was slowly vanishing underneath.
"Try to get higher, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said. "We've got to get Grandpa Smurf to come back for us."
"It's the end of the line for you Smurfs," the castle said as the Smurfs and Smoogle headed for the metal spire at the top of the roof and climbed up on it. "It's time that you disappear along with Castle Captor."
Nanny looked and saw someone among the Smurfs that she recognized. "Smurfadoodle, it's my special friend Smoogle," she said, sounding very excited. "Hang on, because Nanny is coming."
Pushing Grandpa Smurf out of the way, Nanny grabbed the handle that controlled the balloon's flight and directed it to sail back towards the spire of the tower. It came as close as they could to the spire for them to attempt a rescue.
"Papa, grab hold of my hand," Grandpa Smurf said as he reached his hand toward Papa Smurf's.
"We're still too far apart, Grandpa," Papa Smurf said. "We need to smurf a bit closer so that we can reach."
"If only we could smurf enough of a boost to get us smurfing high enough to reach the balloon," Hefty said as he looked below him.
Smoogle was at the bottom of the spire when he heard this. He used his elongated ears to stretch as far as they could to push the Smurfs even higher on the spire. They soon got boosted further up as Smoogle continued to push them further and further toward the top.
Grandpa Smurf pulled each of the Smurfs on board as they reached the top of the spire. "Hurry, my little Smurfs, we must save the Smoogle," Papa Smurf said as soon as Wild Smurf got on board.
Nanny directed the balloon to drift as close as possible to the spire so that they could reach Smoogle. Brainy extended his arms to grab the little creature and held onto him as tight as he could. "Once again, it is I, Brainy Smurf, that has saved the day, and I'm sure that you'll all want to thank me when..."
"Save the speeches for later, Brainy," Hefty said. "We need to get this thing smurfing back to the village."
"I agree with you, Hefty," Grandpa Smurf said. "Nanny, let's get the balloon smurfing again."
"Nanny?" the other Smurfs said as they turned to see who Grandpa Smurf's other passenger was. However, in doing so, Brainy ended up letting go of Smoogle, who fell back toward the top of the tower.
"Oh no, my Smoogle," Nanny cried out, watching as her friend was captured by the stone eagle that was perched on the top of the tower.
The castle laughed maliciously. "At least I'll have one of you to take with me."
"Not if I can help it," Nanny said, "Hold on, Smoogle...here comes Nanny!"
Grandpa Smurf saw that Nanny was preparing to dive out of the balloon's gondola. "No, you don't, Nanny," Grandpa Smurf said as he grabbed Nanny's feet while she dived. "I'm not going to let you smurf away from me again like you did the last time."
"And neither will we let you two smurf away from us, Grandpa," Papa Smurf said as he also grabbed Grandpa Smurf's feet.
And soon, one by one, the Smurfs all grabbed each other's feet as they dived out of the gondola to form a chain that would pull Grandpa and Nanny back in, until only Sassette was left grabbing and pulling as hard as she could to get the others back in.
Then Sassette and the other Smurfs felt as if they could hear each other's thoughts as they sensed who else was in the balloon with them. It was Empath and Snappy, who had joined them to activate the mindlink once again. This smurf will get you all to safety, Empath spoke through their thoughts.
The Smurfs concentrated all their thoughts toward Empath, including Nanny, who was surprised to hear another Smurf talking inside her head. Then from out of the swirly rainbow-colored mist, Nanny was pulled out, along with her friend Smoogle.
"Well, you sure smurfed a good enough time to show up, Empath," Hefty said as soon as he and all the others got back inside the gondola. "If you weren't here, we would have disappeared along with this crazy castle."
"This smurf only wishes there was more that this smurf could have done to save all of you, Hefty," Empath said.
"Let's get this thing smurfing already," Snappy said. "We wasted enough time smurfing around here to..."
Suddenly a metal claw from the top of the spire latched onto the balloon's gondola, trying to prevent the Smurfs from escaping. Grandpa Smurf smacked the claw with his walking stick, causing it to release its grasp.
"I'll be back in another 500 years, and when I return, I'll capture anyone who dares to come my way at the Crossroads Of The World," the castle said in a threatening voice as the top of the spire vanished in the mist.
"Let's hope that castle never returns ever again," Grandpa Smurf said. "Okay, Nanny, let's smurf this thing back home."
"I'll take over the steering, Grandpa Smurf," Papa Smurf said. "I think Nanny needs some time with her friend to make sure he is all right."
"Pappy Smurf, how do you know who she is?" Sassette asked.
"Because she used to be my nanny when I was just a young Smurfling, Sassette," Papa Smurf answered.
"And you must be Culliford, who is all grown up now," Nanny said as she turned her attention toward Papa Smurf and tugged at his beard. "My, you've certainly become a handsome Smurf over the years."
Papa Smurf chuckled. "Yes, well, I truly miss having you smurfing around the village, Nanny. It just hasn't been the same since you disappeared that long ago."
"We've got plenty of time for catching up, Papa Smurf," Grandpa Smurf said. "Now that we're free from the castle, we should have enough room in the village for Nanny to settle down in."
Nanny's attention was then turned toward Empath. "You sure look just as I would imagine Culliford would have been for a Smurf your age, youngster, just except without that weird star on your foresmurf."
"This smurf's name is Empath, Nanny, and this smurf is truly honored to be acquainted with you," Empath said. "And to be honest, this smurf happens to be Papa Smurf's only begotten son."
"Well, that figures," Nanny said. "I could almost mistake you for being a grown-up Smurfling Pan."
"This smurf senses that you're the original Wendy Moira Angela Smurfling from the story," Empath said. "This smurf would be interested in hearing about all your adventures with the original Smurfling Pan."
"All in smurf time, Empath, all in smurf time," Nanny said, laughing.