And soon preparations for the Robin Smurf play were underway. Handy with the help of Carpenter, Smithy, and Weaver were busy working on the stage sets, and Painter did the work of painting them. Tailor and Showoff were busy working together on making costumes for the actors. And the actors themselves were busy rehearsing their lines, making sure everything that happened in the play's story was delivered perfectly. Papa Smurf himself took some time off from his normal studies with experiments to conduct rehearsals of the play's music with the village symphony orchestra. Overall, the Smurfs were pleased to see that the Robin Smurf play was starting to take shape, although Smurfette felt sad for Century that he was left out because of what Vanity did to him.
Then came the rehearsals for the swordfights. "All right, every Smurf," Hefty said as he called all the male actors together. "Gutsy Smurf will be smurfing you how to use your swords when you're smurfing your roles in the play."
Duncan stepped forward with a slight look of disgust that was directed toward Hefty. "First of all, laddies, I do not like being called Gutsy, so if you don't want to get knocked on your smurf, I would suggest that you smurf my proper name. Secondly, if you want to be smurfed seriously in your roles as swordfighters in the play, you might as well act as if you're smurfing your swordfighting seriously. Imagine yourself fighting off a horde of evil trolls and goblins that are invading the village. Also imagine that this village is still under the rule of Brainy as King Smurf. Which side of this battle are you going to smurf -- that of defending Brainy as king, or that of fighting against Brainy? I will be watching how you handle your swords during this practice session. And though this is just for a theatrical production, I will smurf a swordfighter out of you, so expect to get smurfed as you train."
"Oh, Duncan, Duncan, Duncan," Brainy chided as he picked up his wooden sword, "I don't see why we need to have you smurf us anything about swordfighting when it's only just for a play. Personally, I think I am very capable of handling a sword, and I would consider myself an expert in the art of..."
Suddenly Duncan swung the two swords he was holding in his hands and knocked Brainy's sword out of his hand. "An expert, are you?" he snorted. "You're not going to be much of a king if you don't know how to fight like a king, Brainy. If you want people to smurf you seriously in the role of a tyrant, you might as well learn how to fight like one."
"Oh...well, of course, Duncan," Brainy said rather sheepishly. "Why would I ever think that such a thing is not important for an evil character?"
"One would think that your brief time as King Smurf would have smurfed you anything about being a king, Brainy," Duncan said. "A king has to be strong and brave and willing to stand among his Smurf soldiers to fight in battle...not smurfing his time reading books and giving lectures. It doesn't matter if you are a noble king or an evil king, though if you are to be an evil king, you must be ruthless in your smurfings with your subjects."
"And you learned all this in your training to smurf a sword, Duncan?" Brainy asked.
"I am not an uneducated brute, Brainy, like you would smurf the likes of Hefty to be," Duncan said. "I do read books on the history and folklore of kings, both Smurfs and humans, and I imagine myself smurfing part in the battles that they smurf with one another. Wars are terrible things to ever take place, but they are also part of the world that we smurf in, and even though we believe in peace, we must also prepare for situations when others will attack us like Gargamel."
"But my role requires me to be the villain, Duncan," Brainy said.
"If you want other Smurfs to really listen to you, Brainy, for all the times that you've been ignored or smurfed out of the vilage on your head, you're going to have to smurf a show of force to truly be king," Duncan said. "Whether you wish to be that kind of king in this production is up to you."
That got Brainy thinking with a bit of an evil smile on his face. He looked at his sword and gripped it even tighter as he imagined the Smurfs he would use it on who would dare give him a flight out of the village.
And soon Duncan took the Smurf actors through the basics of swordfighting, showing them how to draw their swords and how to parry, thrust, attack, and block. He watched how each of them performed their moves and made comments about their performance. Most of the Smurf actors found Duncan to be rather tough and demanding, but Hefty had no problem as he had previously trained with Duncan and encouraged his fellow Smurfs.
However, one Smurf had a particular problem with the sword: it was Vanity. He never liked handling swords and now feared even using a wooden sword for practice in his role as Robin Smurf.
His sparring partner Brainy chided him on it. "Oh, Vanity, you're not going to be a good Robin Smurf if you're always afraid of the sword. Besides his bow, it's one of the weapons he uses to smurf off Prince John and his guards."
"I don't see why I couldn't fight Prince John with something else, like my mirror," Vanity said.
"Robin Smurf is never the type of Smurf to use a mirror when he's fighting his enemies, Vanity," Brainy said.
"But how can I see how handsome I smurf when I'm fighting my enemies?" Vanity asked.
"You are so ridiculous, Vanity," Brainy said. "Robin Smurf was never consmurfed about how he smurfs. He was more consmurfed about smurfing from the rich and smurfing to the poor, and making sure King Richard smurfed his rightful place on the throne upon his return. And most importantly, he was consmurfed about the welfare of his darling true love, the sweet and chaste Maid Marian. Doesn't any of that concern you as Robin Smurf?"
"Well, if I have smurfed the role, then I guess I should smurf what he smurfs," Vanity said.
"Good, now let's get smurfing with the swordplay already," Brainy said, sounding very impatient to get started.
Vanity picked up his sword and started swinging it towards Brainy. But then Brainy attacked Vanity with his sword, and Vanity yelped as he dropped his own sword and ran away.
Poet and Narrator were checking up on the Smurfs practicing their swordplay when they noticed Vanity running off. "What seems to be the problem with Vanity?" Poet wondered.
"I'm telling you, Poet, that Vanity will just not do in the role of Robin Smurf," Brainy said. "I just barely attacked him with a sword and he ran off."
"That's rather surprising, despite the fact that he's smurfed a great audition," Narrator commented.
"Maybe we should we have smurfed Century for the role of Robin Smurf instead," Poet suggested.
"I wish we could, but you know how...uh, unconvincing he was during the audition, Poet," Narrator said.
"We'll have to find some way to smurf this problem out, then," Poet said, shrugging his shoulders.
Century was in Tapper's Tavern doing some cleaning during its off-hours when he heard a knocking on the door. "Century, I need to smurf to you!" the Smurf on the other side of the door shouted.
Century knew who it was. "Go away, Vanity. I have nothing to smurf with you."
"Please, this is urgent," Vanity pleaded. "I'm sorry that I smurfed the role of Robin Smurf away from you, but now I need your help."
Century sighed as he opened the door to talk to Vanity. "Oh, very well, brother, what is it you want?"
"You know the other day when we visited Duncan McSmurf, how you were not afraid of Duncan when he smurfed a sword at you?" Vanity said. "I can't play the role of Robin Smurf because I'm afraid of swords."
"I thought you had natural talent when it smurfs to acting," Century said. "At least, that's what I remember about you."
"I do have natural talent, Century, but I'm still afraid of swords, and part of being Robin Smurf is having to smurf with a sword," Vanity said. "I'll smurf whatever you want, but please say that you'll help me. That's all I'm smurfing of you."
Century thought about the request for a moment. "Well, for your information, I've become quite attached to the new life that I'm smurfing, so I don't want anything from your house that reminds me that it used to be my life. You got that?"
"Of course, Century," Vanity said.
"And I want you to stop smurfing of me as just being a copy of you, Vanity," Century said. "If you want me as a brother, you're going to have to treat me as your brother."
"Anything you say, Century...just please help me," Vanity said.
Tapper then came into the tavern just as Vanity left it. "Great Smurfiny Crickets, my good Century, what did Vanity want you for?" he asked.
"He just wants my help in playing the role of Robin Smurf, Tapper...the very role that he smurfed from me," Century said. "The problem is that he is afraid of swords, and I am not, and the role requires Robin Smurf to smurf a sword."
"I can see that Vanity does have a problem," Tapper said. "What matters now is how you will respond to it."
After Century was finished with his cleaning job, he decided to pay Duncan a visit.
"Ah, I have figured that you, the peacock's brother, would be smurfing up on my offer to learn how to handle a sword," Duncan said when he saw him near his house practicing sword moves. "What has made you decide that this is what you want to smurf?"
"It's my brother, Duncan," Century said. "He came to me because he couldn't play the part of Robin Smurf without smurfing a sword."
"No doubt he smurfs that yellow streak," Duncan said. "I would have assumed that you would be smurfing the role of Robin Smurf instead of him."
"He still wants to play the role, Duncan," Century said. "He just doesn't want to smurf the swordfighting."
"And you figure you can smurf in his place during scenes when it calls for swordfighting," Duncan said, figuring the whole thing out. "Very well, then. It may not be my call on whether you will smurf the part as a double, but I will train you well in the basics of swordfighting."
"Oh, thank you, Duncan," Century said. "You don't know how much this means to me and Vanity."
"Make no mistake, Century, that training you in how to smurf a sword will not be easy," Duncan said.
"Is anything in the life I'm now smurfing ever easy?" Century said.
And soon Duncan took Century through the basics of swordfighting with a single-handed wooden sword. He learned how to parry, thrust, attack, and block. Duncan was amazed at how quickly Century picked up things and how natural he was at handling a sword. It was like he was doing this all his life.
Finally, Duncan said, "There's nothing more that I will need to smurf you, Century. I have never smurfed any other Smurf in this village who can handle a sword just like you. You will make a very fine student, and a suitable replacement for Vanity in the role of Robin Smurf. With more training you will be combat-ready."
"I could never picture myself as a warrior, Duncan," Century said.
"But you do have the heart and spirit of a fighter," Duncan said. "I would be honored to have you smurfing beside me in battle when the time smurfs."
Meanwhile, Poet and Narrator are explaining to Papa Smurf their dilemma concerning Vanity Smurf as Robin Smurf.
"This is very puzzling, indeed, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said, stroking his beard. "I'm not sure how you'll effectively replace Vanity Smurf in that role if he's the only actor suitable enough for the role."
"We were considering smurfing Century Smurf in the role, but the problem is that he failed in the audition," Narrator said.
"Yeah, and this was after we smurfed such high hopes for him," Poet said.
"He may be your only hope now as a replacement," Papa Smurf said. "I'll smurf a talk with Century about..."
"Papa Smurf! Poet! Narrator!" Century shouted as he approached the three Smurfs, sounding very excited. "I have the perfect solution!"
"What is it, Century?" Papa Smurf asked.
"Vanity Smurf has a fear of swords, and I don't," Century said. "I just got finished with a training with Duncan McSmurf, and he smurfs that I have a natural talent for swordfighting! Why not smurf me as Robin Smurf in parts where I can smurf the fighting and Vanity smurfs the acting?"
"Two Smurfs in the role of Robin Smurf?" Poet wondered. "I don't know about that."
"That sounds like the smurfect solution to our Robin Smurf problem, Papa Smurf," Narrator said.
"I would have to agree as well, Narrator," Papa Smurf said. "Century, you may finally have the part that you wanted in our play."
"Oh, thank you, Papa Smurf," Century said, hugging the village leader. "This is like a dream come true."
"Of course, this means that you may also be the substitute for Vanity if anything smurfs wrong with him," Papa Smurf said. "I'll have Printer smurf you a copy of the script that has Robin Smurf's lines for you to study and rehearse."
"I can't wait to share this good news with my fellow Smurfs," Century said, all excited and happy.
The first Smurf that Century told the news to was Smurfette.
"You finally have the role of Robin Smurf?" she said, happily hugging Century. "Oh, I'm so happy for you. I knew that you would smurf it."
"I'm only smurfing this role alongside Vanity, Smurfette," Century said. "He's still smurfing the lead parts. I'm mostly smurfing the swordfights."
"That's better than nothing, Century," Smurfette said. "I can't wait to be smurfing beside you and Vanity on the stage."
"I just feel like I'm in the mood to smurf a rehearsal right now, Smurfette...if it's all right with you," Century said.
"Oh, I would love to smurf a rehearsal with you," Smurfette said, smiling.
And so the days passed, and the Smurfs who were part of the theatrical production were getting more and more into the spirit, with Brainy rehearsing his lines as the evil Prince John, making his fellow Smurfs think he is really that character. Vanity and Century took turns rehearsing their lines as Robin Smurf with Smurfette, who found herself enjoying the rehearsals more with Century than with Vanity. Duncan was pleased to see the male Smurf actors finally getting the moves of swordplay correctly as they were now becoming second nature. During his off-hours, he was teaching Century about handling different kinds of swords, and was impressed to see that his student was a very quick study. Overall, Papa Smurf was pleased to see that things were progressing along smoothly and that the Smurfs were enjoying the process. He was also glad to see Century get used to the new way of life as his fellow Smurfs all greeted him as if they have been friends with him for a long time.
Then came the night before the play. Everyone was relaxing in Tapper's Tavern, including some of the players, as they all anticipated the big moment when their creative efforts will pay off. It was then that Tapper decided to make a toast.
"My fellow Smurfs, I would like to say how much I envy the participants of the dramatic production that will smurf place tomorrow," he spoke. "But I know in my spirit that this will be the smurfiest dramatic production that has ever been smurfed in the history of this village. And I know that you will all smurf your best and make it a memorable occasion for everyone, including those who will be watching your performance. So in honor of what will smurf place tomorrow, let us raise our glasses to our performance and production cast and say, 'You will make us proud'."
"Here, here," all the Smurfs in the tavern said as they raised up their glasses and then drank to the toast.
Tapper then turned to Century, who was sitting at the counter. "You've barely smurfed the drink in your glass. Is everything all right?"
"I guess I'm just so nervous about what's going to happen tomorrow, I can barely even think of drinking, Tapper," Century said.
"Aye, what I wouldn't give to smurf in your place at this moment, Century," Tapper said. "You and Vanity have the lead role smurfing alongside Smurfette in the play. Many a Smurf would feel like they should be smurfing your role right now instead of you."
"It's more than just being around Smurfette that excites me, Tapper," Century said. "This is my first big chance to make an impression upon my fellow Smurfs."
"Of course, you'll have to deal with the fact that you are smurfing as Vanity's double on stage, Century," Tapper said.
"That's true, Tapper, that's very true," Century said. "But just to smurf that moment of stardom, when others will truly know that it is just me on the stage and not Vanity -- I don't think I can accurately describe what it smurfs like."
"Whether you do get recognized or not for your work, just know that I am happy for you, Century," Tapper said.
"I'll smurf a drink to that," Century said as he finally raised up his glass and drank.