"This one is curious to know who you were thinking of among the Smurfs who would help you in dealing with the dilemma of this Evil Marduk's demand," Polaris said.
"I won't smurf you in suspense, Polaris...it was Painter," Timber said. "From what Narrator could tell, Painter was busy in the Smurf Village helping to smurf up ornaments for the Solstice tree by smurfing small pinecones in various colors of paint with his fellow Smurfs. It was around that time that he received the message from me."
And as Timber's story continued, Polaris saw Painter and a few other Smurfs with a pile of pinecones, dipping each one of them in a bucket of paint by using a stick and fishing line to lower the pinecone into the paint without touching it.
"Uh, how long are we supposed to smurf the pinecone into the paint for?" Clumsy asked.
"Painter says that we should smurf it in for only about a minute or so, Clumsy," Brainy said. "But frankly, I don't smurf what the point is for smurfing it in there for so long."
"The paint is supposed to coat the entire pinecone, M'sieu Brainy," Painter said. "There is no point in smurfing the job halfway through when every pinecone needs to be smurfed perfectly."
"Well, I can't wait to be smurfing up presents for all my fellow Smurfs this year after this is smurfed," Jokey said laughing.
"I pretty much know what you're going to be smurfing every Smurf this year, Jokey, and I'm not going to be fooled one bit," Brainy said.
"Oh really?" Jokey said. "Then maybe I will really surprise you."
"I just only wish our parent Smurfs were still here with us this year for the Winter Solstice, Brainy," Clumsy said.
"I undersmurf how you feel, Clumsy, I do," Brainy said. "But Papa Smurf says that as long as we still have each other, we are still going to be a family."
"You never stop smurfing about Papa Smurf now, do you, Brainy?" Jokey asked.
"It's only because I am his special son in this village, Jokey, the one that he first adopted out of all the Smurfs among our peers," Brainy said. "And who knows, there may be something more to this relationship that I smurf with Papa Smurf than he would smurf on, and I am eager to wait and smurf out what it truly is at the appropriate time."
"M'sieu Clumsy, watch where you're smurfing with that pinecone of yours!" Painter warned as he saw Clumsy take his pinecone out of the bucket of paint and swing the stick so that it was now dripping paint all over Painter.
"Uh, sorry, Painter, I just got so distracted by that stork that's smurfing down next to us," Clumsy said, looking up toward the sky.
"A stork smurfing down to us?" Painter said, sounding curious. He also looked and saw that Clumsy was looking at: a stork that was landing next to them, carrying a message written on tree bark in its beak.
"What's that stork smurfing here?" Jokey wondered. "Is some Smurf in danger?"
"It's obvious to see that it's delivering a message to one of us, Jokey," Brainy said. "I'm only curious to find out who that message is for."
Painter took the message out of the stork's beak and read it. "Sacre bleu, that message is for me!" he exclaimed. "'Dear Painter, please smurf a sack and a can of gold paint with you when you smurf back here to the island. I'll explain what we need it for. Signed, Timber.' It figures that M'sieu Timber would need my artistic talents for something, if only I knew what exactly."
"Well, what are you waiting for?" Clumsy said.
"We should smurf Papa Smurf about this matter before we smurf anything that we will end up regretting, my fellow Smurfs," Brainy suggested.
"I don't think this matter can wait, M'sieu Brainy," Painter said. "I must smurf those things to Timber as soon as possible. You smurf over this job until I return."
"But...but...but...," Brainy tried to protest while he watched Painter head off in another direction.
"Gosh, I could only wonder what Timber needs to smurf with a sack and a can of gold paint," Clumsy said.
"I smurf you anything that Timber is going to smurf a joke on somebody, you just wait," Jokey said laughing.
Brainy sighed. "We won't know until both Timber and Painter return. Let's just keep smurfing this job until we're finished."
"So there I was with Vini, waiting on the island for Painter to receive my message and to arrive on the island with the things I asked him for, Polaris," Timber said. "It felt like smurfing forever, but just as the sun was nearing the western horizon, Painter showed up right on time."
And as Timber continued his story, Polaris saw Timber's younger self sitting there with his axe beside him, and Vini just flitting around, looking rather anxious. Then suddenly Timber could hear Vini saying, "Somebody's coming!"
Timber looked up and saw that the stork had returned with Painter, carrying a big sack in its beak. "Mon ami, it is so good to see you," Painter said as soon as the stork landed and he got off. "What did you smurf me all the way here for anyway?"
"It's urgent, Painter," Timber said. "This elf's sister is turned into a tree, and an evil wizard is threatening to smurf her to ashes if we don't smurf him a bunch of golden pinecones to him before day's end. And we don't have much time left."
"Ah, I see that the only pinecones we have are regular ones, and we need to fool him into thinking that we have smurfed golden ones," Painter said, figuring out the rest. "Very well, then. I have smurfed everything we need to smurf the task."
"I'll help gather as many pinecones as we need," Timber said, heading back toward the tree and picking up as many pinecones as he could carry at a time.
And so for the next hour or so, Painter has been dipping each pinecone Timber could find into the gold paint using a stick and fishing line, coating each one thoroughly and letting each one dry so that the paint could harden and make each pinecone look like it was truly golden.
Then, just as the sun was nearly halfway hidden behind the horizon, Painter said, "Voila, it is finished. We have all the pinecones that we need."
"Quick, let's gather them into the sack and smurf it back to the forest where Vini and I found that Evil Marduk," Timber said, scooping up the dried painted pinecones. "We want to make sure he smurfs them before he does anything to Vini's sister."
"Oui, let's smurf it," Painter said, collecting as many pinecones as he could carry to fill the sack completely.
"Meanwhile, as Narrator could tell, Hefty, Handy, Duncan, and Tapper were already there in the forest, watching Evil Marduk and the enchanted evergreen from a hidden place when they were smurfing for me," Timber told Polaris.
And as Timber's story continued, Polaris saw the four Smurfs that were mentioned hiding behind a bush and looking at the giant named Evil Marduk, lighting a torch as he saw that the day was fading into night. He was becoming very anxious waiting for whoever he was waiting for to return.
"That little blue man and the elf are taking too long to bring me the golden pinecones, you little tree," Evil Marduk said. "I meant what I have promised. If they don't return by the time the day ends, you are going to be ashes."
"I'm not afraid to die, you evil giant," the little tree said. "But know this, you will get your reward when you pass on from this life."
"Don't tell me you believe there's going to be a judgment for all people when they die," Evil Marduk said in total disbelief.
"You will judged worthy of either Elysium or Tartarus," the little tree said. "That's all I'm going to tell you."
"Great Smurfiny Crickets, I feel sorry for the poor tree that is being threatened by this giant being in our forest," Tapper said quietly.
"Don't tell me you believe that this tree is somehow alive, Tapper," Hefty said.
"That tree is speaking like one of us, so I think it's more than just an ordinary tree, Hefty," Handy said.
"We've got to smurf something to get that giant away from that little tree, laddies, before he smurfs good on his threat," Duncan said.
"Well, if you've got any good ideas, Gutsy, let's smurf them right here and now," Hefty said.
"Hey, Smurfs, we may need your help," another voice whispered from behind them.
The four of them turned to see that Timber had returned with Painter and Vini the elf. "Great Smurfiny Crickets, my fellow Timber, you're alive," Tapper said, sounding overjoyed.
"Hey, where were you?" Hefty asked. "We had to smurf the entire forest in order to find you."
"I'll explain later," Timber answered. "Right now we need to smurf Evil Marduk what he's after before he smurfs harm to that tree."
"Better than smurfing around here waiting," Handy said as the four of them got up to follow Timber, Painter, and Vini.
Evil Marduk continued waiting until the sun was barely a sliver peeking over the western horizon. "Well, it seems like your friends have failed both me and you, little tree," he said as he reached out with his torch to burn the tree down.
"Hey, Evil Marduk!" a voice called out to him.
The giant turned his attention toward the little Smurf who was approaching him, carrying a small pile of golden pinecones with him. "You have found them!" he exclaimed.
"Yes, and we have plenty more for you smurfing for you by the river," Timber said, handing over the pile to Evil Marduk.
"There's more?" Evil Marduk said, sounding intrigued. "Lead me to them, if you are telling the truth!"
"It's right this way," Timber said, as he led Evil Marduk on a path toward the river. As soon as he was gone, Hefty, Handy, Tapper, and Duncan showed up with shovels and a plant pot.
"Who are you guys?" the tree asked. "Are you friends of that little blue man?"
"Yes, we are, my friend," Tapper answered. "We're going to smurf you safely to our village where you will be safe."
"Be careful smurfing around the tree, laddies," Duncan said as they started digging a circle around the tree to get it out of the ground.
"I never thought I would be smurfing a tree like this from danger," Hefty said in total disbelief as he digged.
"That's because I'm actually an elf, and I was cursed to become a tree by an evil witch," the tree explained.
"You are under a curse?" Tapper said. "Then maybe Papa Smurf can help you once we return to the village."
"Okay, laddies, easy now," Duncan said as they carefully lifted up the tree from the ground and placed it into the plant pot.
"How long do you think we can keep that Evil Marduk distracted with those fake golden pinecones?" Handy asked.
"Hopefully long enough to get back to the village," Hefty said as he and Duncan lifted up the plant pot to carry the tree with them.
Evil Marduk had reached the river, and just as Timber had told them, right beside the shore was a pile of golden pinecones, all sparkling and glistening.
"Golden pinecones! My golden ticket out of indebtedness!" Evil Marduk exclaimed, sounding overjoyed.
"They're yours for the smurfing, as long as we have a deal," Timber said, watching as Evil Marduk scooped up as many as he could and put them into a sack.
"Yes, yes! Do what you want with that little tree!" Evil Marduk said. "I have all that I will need to pay off my creditors!"
Timber continued to watch until all the pinecones were put into the sack, and then Evil Marduk carried it with him, going off into another direction while whistling a tune.
Then Painter and Vini stepped out from behind a bush. "I believe that our little ruse has worked, M'sieu Timber," Painter said.
"Let's smurf back to the village," Timber said. "The other Smurfs should be there with Arboria safely smurfed there."
"I can't wait to be reunited with my sister," Vini said as she followed the two Smurfs on their way back to the village.