Part 4

"So how are we enjoying the Christmas dinner tonight, my friends?" Vino said as he interrupted the story Smurfette was telling Empath and Polaris.
"Everything's just like it was last Christmas, except that it's a little better, Vino," Empath said. "You should ask Polaris, since this is his first actual Christmas dinner he is eating."
"Very well, then," Vino said. "Is everything smurfed to your satisfaction, Polaris?"
"This one appreciates the effort you have put into preparing the dinner, and has found everything in it to be satisfactory, fellow Vino," Polaris said.
"More smurfberry wine to make the meal more enjoyable?" Vino asked.
"This one would prefer more seltzer, if it's available, but this one appreciates the offer," Polaris answered.
"This smurf and Smurfette would like another glass of wine, please," Empath said, as he and Smurfette produced their empty glasses.
Vino took an opened bottle and poured the smurfberry wine into the glasses. "I shall return promptly with Polaris' glass of seltzer," he promised before he moved on.
"Now let's get back to the story," Empath said after he took a sip of his wine. "Smurfette and the other Smurfs were just encountering what they thought was a ghost, and so they headed off in another direction inside the castle. What else happens?"
"We started to hear music smurfing nearby in the direction we were smurfing, so Papa Smurf decided that we should investigate for ourselves and see what was smurfing the music," Smurfette said.
And as Smurfette continued the story, Empath and Polaris saw the Smurfs walking down another corridor, trying to be as quiet as possible. All the while, though, they couldn't escape the feeling like they were being watched by somebody.
"If Papa Smurf says that there's no ghost, then it must be true that there isn't a ghost in here, because Papa Smurf would never lie when it smurfs to...," Brainy began to babble, before he heard a loud growling noise behind him.
Smurfette found Brainy leaping into her arms, scared by the loud growling noise. "Brainy, what are you smurfing?" she asked, not liking having to hold Brainy in her arms like that.
"I...I thought I heard a loud growling noise...right from behind us," Brainy said, sounding all fearful.
And then they saw Greedy and Nabby passing by them, clutching their stomachs, feeling how empty they were without food. They could hear the low growling of the stomachs, which must mean it was just the hallway making the faint sounds echo off the walls.
Brainy laughed nervously. "Say, Smurfette, did anyone tell you that you're beautiful when you're mad?" he said to her.
Then as the Smurfs reached a corner, Papa Smurf saw a light coming from a door at the end of an adjoining passageway and heard music coming from behind the door. "Shhh...quiet, my little Smurfs...I'm hearing music," Papa Smurf said as he kept them from proceeding any further.
"Sounds like somebody in here likes music," Harmony said after listening to the tune being played.
"Let's hope that he also likes food, because I'm hungry," Greedy said.
"Well, if it's really a ghost playing the music, I'd like to smurf a few words with him about haunting the place," Hefty said, sounding like he was raring for a fight with somebody.
"Yeah, let's go bust some ghosts before they bust us, Hefty," Tuffy said.
"Careful now, laddies, we still don't know what exactly we're smurfing with here in this castle," Duncan said.
Papa Smurf led the Smurfs toward the lighted door and opened it together. They all saw that there was a harpsichord and a candelabra in the next room, with the harpsichord playing itself and the candelabra floating in midair right next to the harpsichord.
The Smurfs screamed as they saw these things and ran away from the room, feeling that there really was a ghost in the castle. But Papa Smurf didn't run away, having a feeling that everything is not what it really seems. He then noticed a piece of fine string that was tied to a post on one of the walls. He gave the string a tug, and sure enough he found that it was attached to the candelabra.
"I was right...there are no ghosts in this castle," Papa Smurf said, sounding a bit relieved. "I must tell my little Smurfs about this as soon as possible."
But as he looked back out into the hallways, he saw that his little Smurfs have disappeared. That meant that he had to find them again before whoever resided in the castle found them first.

Soon the Smurfs stopped running and found themselves lost inside the castle with no way out. "Which way do we go now?" Brainy said as he tried to figure out how to get back to where it was that they entered the castle from.
"Well, I sure don't smell food anywhere," Greedy said.
"And I don't see Papa Smurf anywhere," Smurfette said. "Where could he be?"
"Matter of fact, I don't see Chatty or Nosey with us either, lassie," Duncan said.
"Maybe it...it's the ghost that smurfed the three of them, Smurfette," Brainy said. "And it will smurf us soon if we're not careful."
"Then we need to split up into groups and see if we can find Papa Smurf as well as Nosey and Chatty in this castle," Tapper suggested. "Hefty will lead one group, Duncan will lead another, and Tracker will smurf in charge of a third group."
"Oh really?" Brainy said, not liking the sound of that arrangement. "How come I don't get smurfed in charge of any group to find and rescue Papa Smurf?"
"Probably because you're too much of a scaredy-smurf to even lead such a group by yourself, Brainy," Duncan commented.
"This is really not the time to argue about such decisions, my fellow Smurfs," Tapper said. "We should get ourselves..."
They were suddenly interrupted by the sound of loud growling and clanking that was coming closer, and as the Smurfs turned to see what was causing it, they saw a headless suit of armor walking through the hallways in a frightening manner.
This scared the Smurfs so much that they ran together in a single group away from the walking suit of armor, though in the process they ran right past Papa Smurf, who was hurled in the air briefly when they didn't stop to see who was right in front of them.
Papa Smurf looked back to see what it was that the Smurfs were running away from. As it turned out, it was a headless suit of armor, but somehow it just kept going in the same direction, oblivious to the fact that Papa Smurf was now in plain sight of the armor. That made Papa Smurf wonder about something that was starting to make a bit more sense in his mind.

The Smurfs meanwhile found a darkened room that they haven't been in before. "Papa Smurf, are you in there?" Smurfette called out as she looked inside.
"I...I...I don't think that anybody is in there, Smurfette," Brainy said.
"Nevertheless, we should check this room to make sure Papa Smurf is safe, my fellow Brainy," Tapper said. "We're not going to leave this castle without him."
"Aye, and we're not going to let some ghost take Papa Smurf or those other two laddies away from us, if we can help it," Duncan said.
And so the Smurfs entered the darkened room, looking here and there for any sign of Papa Smurf. While they were busy searching, Papa Smurf had entered the room, glad to have found his little Smurfs.
Then Brainy smelled a scent in the air which he recognized as the scent of smurfnip being smoked, and as he approached a suit of armor, he could see that Chatty and Nosey were standing next to it, smoking their cigarettes. "Aha! Figures that I would catch you smurfing those things!" Brainy said in his usual annoying self-righteous tone.
"Hey, why don't you mind your own business, Brainy Smurf?" Chatty said.
"Yeah, we're just finding a way to relax ourselves in this haunted castle," Nosey said.
"If Papa Smurf was here, whom we are trying to find, he would punish you for smurfing that weed at a time when the rest of us are in danger," Brainy said. "In fact, he would ask you right now to surrender those smurfs to him so that you would not be..."
"Brainy," Papa Smurf said sharply as he stood right behind Brainy.
Brainy was so scared by his name simply being called out that he leaped up and hit his head on the arm of the suit of armor. He looked behind him after he landed and saw that it was Papa Smurf.
"Brainy, why are you so...," Papa Smurf began to say, but then suddenly they heard the suit of armor was about to collapse, and Papa Smurf pulled Brainy out of the way just before the suit landed with a crash.
Chatty and Nosey laughed. "Maybe Brainy needs a good smoke of smurfnip more than we do, Nosey," Chatty said.
"That would be my opinion as well, Chatty," Nosey said, nodding in agreement.
The other Smurfs turned to see that Papa Smurf was with Brainy. "Oh, thank smurfness you are safe, Papa Smurf," Smurfette said.
"Aye, we thought that the ghost had smurfed you for good, and then we'd have one more ghost smurfing this place," Duncan said.
"What did you find out about this ghost, Papa Smurf?" Tapper asked.
"Quite a few things, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said. "First of all, the candelabra was being smurfed by a fine string, so it wasn't really smurfing in the air. I also believe that the harpsichord wasn't really playing itself, and that the headless knight for all intents and purposes isn't really a ghost."
"Of course, Papa Smurf," Brainy said. "I knew that would be the case all the time. I just had to smurf some time to get used to the fact that not everything is what it smurfs to be, and that there's more to this place than smurfs the eye, and that one should always be careful to smurf before you leap, and furthermore..."
The other Smurfs didn't wait to let Brainy finish his thoughts before they tossed him inside the fallen suit of armor's helmet.
"I sure hope Brainy smurfs fresh inside that can," Jokey said with a laugh.
"Now that this mysterious smurfer inside the suit isn't really a ghost, Papa Smurf, we need to find a way to get him to reveal himself," Smurfette said.
"I agree with you, Smurfette," Papa Smurf said. "Jokey, have you packed any of your jokes and surprises with you?"
"Just one that I've been smurfing for a special occasion, Papa Smurf," Jokey said with a laugh.
"Well, this smurfs like a good time as any for that 'special occasion', my fellow Jokey," Tapper said.

Soon, as the walking suit of armor came around the same area that the Smurfs were hiding out in, Jokey appeared out in the hallway with one of his "surprise" presents. "Here, Mr. Knight, would you like to smurf a nice surprise? I'm sure that you'll smurf a big bang out of it," Jokey said with a chuckle.
The walking suit of armor took the present from Jokey and opened it, causing it to explode. After the smoke cloud vanished, the suit of armor had also vanished, leaving behind a balding gray-bearded man.
"Well, the spell you smurfed on that surprise present of Jokey's worked, Papa Smurf," Tapper commented as the Smurfs came out of hiding to examine the man that they have unmasked.
"Sir? Sir, are you all right?" Papa Smurf asked the bearded man.
"Me? No...I mean, yes, I am all right," the bearded man replied, sounding rather confused. "Who are you people? And what are you doing here?"
"We are called Smurfs, and we live in the forest that's north of your castle," Papa Smurf said. "We only came here looking for food because we have lost our food in a fire recently. What is your name, sir?"
"Oh, my name is Lord Poppery, and where you are is the last remaining piece of the Poppery Estate," the bearded man answered. "And as far as food, there is a ghost who's been stealing that and all my valuables. I don't have much to help you out with, but you can stay in my castle for as long as you want."
"You...you mean that there's been a real ghost all this time?" Brainy said, sounding like he has a lump in his throat.
"Hmmm, something here smells rather unsmurfy," Duncan said. "First this laddie pretends that he's a ghost, and now he says that there's a real ghost smurfing about. I'm not sure what to make of this story."
"What if we're to help you find out where your treasure has been taken, Lord Poppery?" Tapper asked. "In the process, we can find out who or what this 'ghost' really is."
"But first we need to have something to smurf," Greedy said, which the other Smurfs also agreed with.
"Huh? What did that Smurf say?" Lord Poppery asked.
"I think he means that we need to have something to eat," Papa Smurf said.
"Oh, of course," Lord Poppery. "Follow me to the kitchen, and I'll see what I have left that I can share with you Smurfs."
As the Smurfs followed Lord Poppery to the kitchen, Smurfette said to Tapper, "This certainly isn't how I would imagine spending my first Christmas."
"I understand how you feel, my dear Smurfette," Tapper said. "But at least sharing the holidays with someone who's just as less fortunate as ourselves will be enough to ease both our burdens. For you see, the true spirit of Christmas isn't in what we get from others, but in what we give to others."
"Like the gift that this Almighty has given to the world in the form of His only begotten Son," Smurfette said, having a good idea what Tapper was getting at.
"Aye, what a sacrifice He has made for us so that we can have a chance to smurf our faith in Him and to live with Him forever in heaven," Tapper said.
"Hey, aren't you two coming to join us for dinner or not?" Duncan said, noticing that both Tapper and Smurfette were lagging behind.
"Hold your smurfs, my fellow Duncan, we'll be joining you," Tapper said as he and Smurfette ran to catch up with the others.