Part 5

"So it was you three who set off who find the black rose in order to cure Papa Smurf," Polaris said. "That is quite an interesting trio that would join together for such a cause as that."
"Even this smurf was amused to find that out, Polaris," Empath said. "This smurf can understand if it was Hefty or Tuffy or even Tapper who would team up with Duncan and Smurfette, but Grouchy seemed like the most unlikely of heroes."
"I agree with you, Empath, but Grouchy was still brave enough to smurf along with the two of us," Smurfette said. "Anyway, we were smurfing for where the map said that the Castle of Evil Spirits was located when we encountered a strange being near its entrance."
Then Polaris saw the point in Smurfette's story where she, Duncan, and Grouchy were heading for the Castle of Evil Spirits. Duncan was leading the way since he was holding onto the map, and was armed with a sword in case they would run into anything that would require its use.
"I hate having to travel a long distance to smurf this castle," Grouchy said after a while of walking.
"Well, according to this map, we should smurf the castle right in the middle of a big lake," Duncan said.
"You must be worried about losing Papa Smurf, Grouchy," Smurfette said. "I can understand how you're smurfing right about now."
"I hate that possibility, Smurfette," Grouchy said. "And I hate not knowing what caused him to be so ill."
"Don't you worry there," Smurfette consoled. "Dabbler and the other Smurfs will be smurfing after him until we find and smurf back the black rose."
"I hate to think about Dabbler Smurf right about now," Grouchy said.
Soon the three of them found the big lake. "Michty me, there it is," Duncan said as he noticed a castle sitting on an island in the middle of the lake.
Smurfette and Grouchy saw the castle for themselves. "Oooh, it's so creepy," Smurfette said with a shiver going down her spine. "Look at all the bats surrounding it."
"I hate bats," Grouchy said.
"But the question is, how do we smurf inside?" Duncan asked. "The bridge that connects to the mainland is smurfed to pieces."
"Well, maybe we can smurf there by swimming," Smurfette suggested.
"Don't do that," a gravelly voice spoke from behind her. "The lake is filled with creatures that would devour you. I would suggest that you hop from rock to rock to reach the castle."
The three Smurfs turned to see who it was that spoke, and it turned out to be what resembled a humanoid frog wearing a sorcerer's robe. "And who are you supposed to be, laddie?" Duncan asked.
"I am an old knight," the frog being explained. "Magnificus the magician once cast a spell on me to seize this castle. Who are you, and what are you seeking here?"
"We're Smurfs, and we must smurf the black rose from the castle to cure Papa Smurf," Smurfette explained. "He's very sick, and if he doesn't get cured soon, he could smurf away."
"Oh, I see," the knight said, looking at the three Smurfs to scrutinize their purpose. "Well, you've demonstrated your courage, but you'll need weapons to defend yourself from the creatures that haunt this castle."
"That's not a problem there," Duncan said. "I'm already armed with a sword."
"I'm afraid that your sword will be of no use against them, brave one," the knight said. He then handed Smurfette a sword that looked like it had seen better days. "Here, take is a magic sword that will help you combat the forces of evil."
"Oooh, a magic sword," Smurfette said as she looked at its misshapen blade. Already she could feel its power coursing through her, as if it was alive somehow. "Thank you, Sir Knight."
"And for you, bearded one, take this," the knight said as he handed Duncan a small bag. "These are magic explosive seeds that are effective against evil spirits, but not against ghosts."
Duncan looked at the bag rather suspiciously. "I'm not sure how this would smurf of any use, but I'll have to smurf you at your word."
"At the top of the keep," the knight warned, "you'll find a genie who will protect you against the ghosts. Be sure to use him when it is absolutely necessary."
"Aye, that we will, laddie," Duncan said. "Thanks for the advice."
"So what are we waiting for?" Grouchy said, sounding impatient. "Let's get smurfing already!"
"Hold on there, Grouchy," Smurfette called out as she saw Grouchy already hopping from rock to rock.
"Aye, don't be smurfing so fast," Duncan said as he and Smurfette followed after him.
But Grouchy didn't stop or slow down. He continued hopping until he found himself slipping on a rock and falling into the water. Immediately, a plant-like monster rose up to the surface and headed straight for Grouchy.
"Oh no!" Smurfette cried out. She and Duncan quickly hopped toward the rock that Grouchy was climbing onto for safety. "Go away, filthy monster!" She hopped up and struck the monster's head with the blade of the magic sword. Instantly the monster disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Grouchy spotted another plant-like creature emerging from the lake. "Duncan...behind you!" he called out.
Duncan turned only to be grabbed by the creature's tendrils and wrapped so tight by them. "Let go of me, you smurfed creature," Duncan shouted as he struggled to get himself free.
Smurfette reacted by hopping up toward the creature and swinging the magic sword several times. The creature was sliced up into many pieces, weakening it to the point where its tendril snapped off and withered, freeing Duncan.
"Aye, you've got the spirit of a Smurfswoman within you, lassie," Duncan said, sounding grateful. "Now let's hurry and smurf across before the other monsters smurf us."
"I hate monsters," Grouchy said as he and Smurfette followed after Duncan.
They soon reached the shore of the island, only to find themselves with another problem. "The bats are attacking us," Smurfette said as she saw a cloud of bats swooping down towards them.
"Hurry, lassie, this way," Duncan said as he saw a crack in the castle's wall that was big enough for the three of them to enter. Smurfette and Grouchy followed, with Grouchy being the last who barely escaped the bat attack.
"That was close," Grouchy said as soon as he was inside. "And I hate when things are close."
"So now where are we?" Smurfette asked as she looked around.
"Those stairs must smurf to the cellar," Duncan said as he hopped down onto them. "Follow me."
They soon reached the bottom of the stars, where they saw what appeared to be a big chest lying dormant in the cellar. "Gee, do you suppose we might find the black rose in that chest, Duncan?" Smurfette asked.
"Only one way to find out, lassie," Duncan said, pulling out his own sword and using it as a lockpick to open the chest.
"I don't think we should be opening it," Grouchy said with some foreboding.
Soon the lock was picked, and the chest opened only to reveal something else inside...a ghost that resembled a bedsheet with eye holes. It made a fearsome scary noise as it raised itself up from inside the chest.
"I...I...I HATE GHOSTS!!!" Grouchy shouted as he and Smurfette quickly hopped back up the staircase.
"Let's smurf up top to smurf the genie," Duncan said as he hopped up the stairs faster, overtaking the lead.
They soon reached the top of the stairs, where they stopped to see where they were now. "It's the weapons room," Duncan said, noticing the shields and the suits of armor standing quietly. "The stairs to the keep are here."
"Keep smurfing...the ghost is still following us," Grouchy said, looking behind him.
As they quickly headed for the other set of stairs, Smurfette noticed something. "The suits of armor...they're smurfing over us!" she cried out as they moved out of their places, raising their swords.
"Don't worry about them, lassie...just keep smurfing forward," Duncan said.
The three Smurfs passed by the suits of armor as they got closer, and then as they swung their swords, they ended up striking each other instead, causing them to fall to pieces and collapse on the floor.
"Those suits are empty," Grouchy said as he looked behind. "But the ghost is still smurfing after us."
"Up this way," Duncan said, as he hopped up the winding staircase with Smurfette and Grouchy following close behind. The ghost continued its pursuit of the three Smurfs as they now hopped up a broken wooden staircase to the top of the keep.
"There it is...the genie's lamp," Duncan said as soon as he noticed it in the keep. "Quick, Smurfette, smurf it and make a wish."
"Oh, please, genie, I wish that you would smurf care of the ghost," Smurfette said fearfully as she rubbed the lamp.
Instantly, the genie appeared. "Speak, and I will obey you," he spoke, sounding like he was still asleep.
"Genie, I have already smurfed my wish," Smurfette said in a desperate tone. "Wake up!"
"Somebody better smurf something...that ghost is really smurfing close," Grouchy said as he looked and saw that it was close behind them.
The genie teleported himself to appear right in front of the ghost. He swung his fist into the ghost, causing it to be disoriented enough to be picked up by the genie and flung outside the castle, where it disappeared into the light.
"I must return to the lamp soon," the genie said. "You have one final wish, so make it quick."
"Genie, we wish to know where we can smurf the black rose in this castle," Smurfette said.
"You'll find the magic rose in the castle's dungeon where I will transport you," the genie answered as he disappeared into the lamp. "Pass the third grating on the left."
"The third grating on the left...understood," Duncan said, making a mental note for himself and his companions.
Suddenly in a puff of smoke, the three Smurfs found themselves transported elsewhere that looked much worse than where they were. "Now where are we?" Grouchy asked.
"In the dungeon, laddie," Duncan said as he looked around. "That must be the first grating on the left."
"Well, let's go," Smurfette said as she followed Duncan through the holes in the grating. "Are you coming, Grouchy?"
"I hate smurfing under gratings," Grouchy said as he crawled through the hole and followed the other two.

Back in the village, Tapper spoke privately with Dabbler when they were both outside the infirmary. "So how's Papa Smurf doing right now while we are waiting for the black rose?" Tapper asked.
"He's resting peacefully, Tapper, but other than that, I'm feeling rather useless," Dabbler said. "I feel like I should be the one smurfing after the black rose with Duncan and not Smurfette or Grouchy."
"I can understand the feeling of helplessness in a situation like this, my fellow Dabbler, but rest assured that your friends are smurfing the best they can to help Papa Smurf recover soon," Tapper said comfortingly. "And I smurf the feeling that you won't leave this position like you had many others before because you care too much for your fellow Smurfs, even for Papa Smurf, to ever think that what you smurf around here is not important."
"I don't understand how a Smurf like you can smurf such faith in me when I don't smurf any faith in myself," Dabbler said.
"I smurfed no faith in Papa Smurf ever being the Smurf who would be able to lead 97 young Smurflings into becoming a family of Smurfs that would smurf care of the whole village like we were all adults," Tapper said. "But then an angel smurfed me my holy book, and from it I discovered a God who is able to smurf the impossible from the most unlikely of people, and all He smurfed of those people is to smurf a little bit of faith in Him."
"So you believe this God helped Papa Smurf become the leader that he is now?" Dabbler asked.
"Papa Smurf never had the faith to believe that he would succeed in that monumental task, and yet the years are evidence of how his life has smurfed for the better and for better of all of us," Tapper replied. "You are at the same place that he once was in, unsure that you would ever smurf yourself doing one thing in your life that would make you more than just Dabbler Smurf."
"But I feel that it's impossible for me to change who I am, Tapper," Dabbler said.
"Aye, it is impossible...but the things that are impossible for us to smurf are the very things that are possible with God smurfing with us every step of the way," Tapper said. "If His plan for your life is for you to become a Doctor Smurf, then He will surely smurf it to pass, and there's nothing you or I can smurf to change it. And if you're willing to smurf your faith in Him, then He will smurf you all that you need to smurf that plan to fruition."
Dabbler nodded with understanding. "Well, if this village needs a Doctor Smurf, then they're going to get one."
"I'll continue to pray for you, my friend, that your hunger and desire to help your fellow Smurfs will be so strong that nothing in the world can smurf you away from being the Smurf you were meant to be," Tapper said with a smile, putting his hand on Dabbler's shoulder for encouragement.
Meanwhile, Hefty and Handy were talking with each other when they noticed Tapper with Dabbler. "Look at Tapper...he's trying to get Dabbler to believe in that imaginary God of his while Papa Smurf is smurfed up in bed," Handy said.
"You don't think that his God is capable of smurfing Papa Smurf from the smurf of death, like Empath was able to years ago with that mindlink of his?" Handy asked.
"Those are two things that I really don't want to smurf about, Handy...God and Empath," Hefty said. "As far as I'm concerned, they're both things in my life that I need as much as I need a hole in my smurf."
"If Empath were here right about now, we wouldn't have to be smurfing Papa Smurf's fate in something like smurfing a black rose for him," Handy said. "Why you want him to stay in Psychelia instead of smurfing back home where he belongs is totally beyond me."
"You like Empath so much, you can go smurf with him in Psychelia, Handy," Hefty said. "I just want a Smurf Village where we don't have to smurf with star-faced freaks or Tapper's God."
"Then you might as well smurf in a village all by yourself, because other than the Smurfs who don't know who he is, most of them would rather have him around, including Dabbler of all Smurfs," Handy said as he walked off and left Hefty standing by himself.