Empath woke up in the land known as Greece, which is a country located on the southeastern part of Europe near the Aegean Sea. It has been at least a month since all his fellow Smurfs, including Papa Smurf, Grandpa Smurf, and Nanny, had disappeared in time through the vortex that the Key Of Chronos had opened, and right now all he had for company was his friend Polaris Psyche and the HoloSmurf that was given to Papa Smurf. He wondered how long this journey was going to take, and feared that it might take a whole lifetime as did Grandpa Smurf's journey to restore the power of the Neverstone on Smurfling Island.
Empath noticed that neither Polaris Psyche nor the HoloSmurf were nearby when he woke up, so he decided to look. He found the HoloSmurf by the stream fishing. He was happily whistling the smurfsong the same way that Papa Smurf would usually do whenever he was busy with something that kept him occupied.
“Good morning, Empath,” HoloSmurf greeted with a cheerful smile as he saw Empath. “Did you smurf well?”
Empath groaned as he stretched. “This smurf isn’t used to sleeping outdoors since my days in Psychelia, but this smurf is slowly adjusting,” he answered.
“One of the advantages of being an Imaginarium-smurfed being is that you don’t have to worry about sleep,” HoloSmurf mentioned casually. “As long as you smurf me back inside my crystal, I will be as rested and as smurfing to go as you and Polaris.”
“That reminds this smurf,” Empath continued, “how did you get activated this morning without this smurf doing it?”
“Your friend Polaris woke up before you and smurfed the honors, Empath,” HoloSmurf answered. “He thought that I could be smurfful to this threesome by smurfing some food for us to eat. Another advantage of being me is not having to worry about smurfing stomachs.”
“This smurf never remembers Papa Smurf being so annoying,” Empath muttered.
“I smurf your pardon, Empath?” HoloSmurf asked.
“It’s just that to this smurf, you’re so much like Papa Smurf and yet so much like Brainy Smurf,” Empath explained, “This smurf somehow just can’t get used to the fact that you’re not Papa Smurf, because right now you’re all this smurf has of him.”
“I appreciate your smurfiment, Empath,” HoloSmurf replied, “but I was never designed to be anything more than just Papa Smurf’s assistant. I have all 552 years of his memories, but I don’t have his powers or his personality. I can no more run an entire village by mysmurf than I can make fish smurf out of the stream. And while I also have memories of you being smurfed to Papa Smurf, I cannot even be as much a father to you as he was.”
HoloSmurf looked at Empath and sighed. Somehow he didn’t like seeing Empath thinking that he has no other Smurf to turn to when all the others including Papa Smurf had left him, even by accident.
“If it makes you smurf any better,” he finally said, placing his hand on Empath’s shoulder, “I will always be here for you no matter how this adventure smurfs out. Just think of me as smurfing like Papa Smurf’s twin brother, the one who never has to sleep or eat.”
“Well, ‘Uncle Culliford’, this smurf can see we may have a bite,” Empath interjected when he saw the line on the assistant’s fishing line being tugged on.
HoloSmurf never felt so excited, since this was his first time fishing, and yet he recalled Papa Smurf’s previous experiences doing fishing. “Just watch this and see if I can smurf us a big one today,” he cried out as he fought with his pole trying to bring it in. “Papa Smurf’s really going to envy his assistant when he smurfs out...”
But the fish proved to be bigger than HoloSmurf expected. It ended up pulling him in with his pole, producing a big splash that also soaked Empath.
Empath laughed at the sight of HoloSmurf, holding up his broken pole and grimacing at the thought of the big one that got away from him as he stood there in the water.
“By the way, let me remind you of another advantage of being me,” he said in a sardonic manner, not liking Empath’s laughing at him. “I don’t have to worry about being smurfing wet or cold.” He immediately stepped out of the water looking like he hadn’t even fallen into the stream, carrying his pole with him.
Empath stopped laughing when he saw the broken pole. “This smurf sympathizes with you for the loss of your big catch of the day,” he said.
“Well, we’re going to need more than sympathy when Polaris finds out we don’t have breakfast ready,” HoloSmurf scoffed.
“That part we can fix the simple way,” Empath grinned as he picked up a small stone, looked into the stream as he waited, then threw the stone into the water very hard. He picked up a big fish similar to the one HoloSmurf had lost.
“Well, won’t Papa Smurf be envious?” HoloSmurf muttered, already feeling that way.
After breakfast, Polaris decided that he and Empath needed some practice with the quarterstaff to make themselves ready for combat should the need arise. Empath obliged, and so the two of them watched over by the HoloSmurf proceeded to spar with each other on open ground so that neither of them would have the advantage over each other.
"Empath, you're letting your emotions affect your ability to effectively use your weapon," Polaris commented during their sparring.
"How do you expect this smurf to react to the thought of the Schliphargons wanting to find our village and destroying our fellow Smurfs?" Empath asked.
"This is the reason that you should meditate more to control your emotions, and not let your emotions get the better of you," Polaris said.
"You mean to be entirely emotionless like you seem to be most of the time?" Empath said. "This smurf has already lived that life in Psychelia, and would rather feel every kind of emotion there is, if you don't mind."
"Letting your emotions control your actions is not a proper strategy," Polaris said, easily felling Empath with a swoop of his quarterstaff.
"This smurf is sick of hearing about the Psychelian way of living when this smurf is no longer living in Psychelia," Empath ranted. "You think you're better than all the Smurfs just because you don't have to feel any sort of emotion, even hatred?"
"This is not a matter of who's superior to whom, Empath," Polaris said sternly. "This is a matter of remaining in control of yourself despite our current circumstances. You decided to go on this mission to find a way to bring your fellow Smurfs home, and now with the Schliphargons following us along our journey, we have to keep ourselves ready to face them at any time and keep them from ever finding us with our fellow Smurfs should they appear wherever we are."
"And we'll make sure that you'll never be reunited with them if needs be," a familiar voice rang out. Empath and Polaris could see that the Schliphargons have emerged from behind the trees, ready for combat.
"Just what we need at this time of day," Empath said rather sarcastically.
"Prepare yourself, Empath," Polaris warned, as Empath got on his feet with his quarterstaff in hand.
Empath and Polaris fought hard against the Schliphargons, whom most of them again proved to be little match against either of the two travelers. Nevertheless, it gave Empath the opportunity to vent his frustrations out on what he thought were deserving targets.
"HoloSmurf, we could use a hand in the battle," Empath shouted as he felled another Schliphargon.
"But Empath, I'm just a mere assistant, not a warrior," the HoloSmurf said.
"You're a warrior now," Empath shot back. And instantly, a quarterstaff appeared in the HoloSmurf's hand. A Schliphargon came and swung his bladed staff toward the HoloSmurf, which he quickly dodged before swinging his weapon.
Soon Empath was facing off with Heftargan. "Ah, how wonderful it will be to have you as a trophy, p'targaphne," Heftargan said as the two of them engaged in combat with each other.
"It's too bad this smurf can't say the same about you, Heftargan," Empath said during one of his attacks.
The battle between Empath and Heftargan lasted a good few minutes with both of them equally skilled, but despite a few injuries, Empath managed to fell Heftargan. "Now are you going to leave us alone, or do we need to give you a few more good lumps to drive home the point?" Empath said with his quarterstaff on Heftargan's chest.
"Your foolish quest to bring your fellow soft-bellied friends home will be all for naught, p'targaphne, for you might as well consider them all dead," Heftargan said.
"And how would you know this for certain?" Empath said in a threatening voice. "Tell me!"
Heftargan laughed. "Because while you were wasting your time, me and the Schliphargons have already found them and killed them. They made such wonderful screams and pleadings for their lives, and there were a few that resisted, but in the end, none of them could stand before a Schliphargon."
Empath could feel his anger rising. "You...killed them?!? How dare you smurf such a thing!"
"And about the pretty blue female," Heftargan added for spite, "she was the most wonderful plaything that me and my warriors could ever enjoy before she died. I'm sure that in her dying breath that she must have enjoyed it more than she could ever hope to enjoy anything from you. I could hear her moaning in ecstasy every time we touched her in that special way."
This only made Empath even more angrier. "You motherless beasts! For that you might as well join those whom you killed!"
"That's it...prove yourself a warrior, if you truly are one," Heftargan said.
"This smurf is not a warrior, but for what you have done, this smurf doesn't have much of a choice," Empath said as he raised up his quarterstaff to strike down hard on Heftargan's face, ready to kill him.
"Empath, stand down!" Polaris shouted, seeing what Empath was about to do.
"But Polaris, these Schliphargon scum have killed the Smurfs, and they have also defiled Smurfette," Empath retorted.
"Stand down and let us leave these Schliphargons to tend to their injuries," Polaris insisted. "We will not accomplish anything by giving in to the desire of bloodshed."
"Don't listen to that p'targaphne if you want to prove yourself," Heftargan countered. "Strike me down with all your hatred and avenge those whom I killed, even the female that I have ravished in your absence."
"Empath, please, you don't want to be like the Schliphargon," HoloSmurf joined in. "Papa Smurf and the others have raised you to be a better Smurf than those who will oppose you."
Empath stood above his fallen opponent with his weapon ready to smash Heftargan's skull in for what seemed like a long time, struggling between his desire to kill a Schliphargon and the need to keep himself from killing anyone. And then finally he lowered his weapon and went to grab his things as Polaris began to depart from the scene with the HoloSmurf.
Heftargan laughed. "It figures that you are no warrior, p'targaphne. You are nothing but a soft-bellied coward who runs from every sort of battle. But be certain that you cannot always run from a Schliphargon. I will find you and I will kill you, and I will make your afterlife miserable with the knowledge that you have been beaten by a Schliphargon because you failed to be the warrior you should be. May your corpses rot along with those of your friends, because we will drink your blood until there is no more blood left to drink."
As soon as they traveled a good distance away from where they had encountered Heftargan and his band of Schliphargons in the forest, Polaris used the HoloSmurf to find a good spot where they could sleep for the night without being disturbed by any humans. But even though Polaris was without much of his mind's-eye abilities, he could see that Empath was bitter and fuming. He hadn't so much as spoken a word ever since Polaris had to step in before Empath proceeded to pummel Heftargan's head in with his quarterstaff. Polaris decided to try breaking the silence to see what was wrong and what he could do to help.
"Empath, this one apologizes for having to intercede on your behalf, to prevent you from committing a violent act that would have possibly killed a living being," he said calmly. "However, you should know from your years of training as a Psyche that you should never allow the taunts and rantings of an outsider to disrupt the inner calm of your temperance. It is nothing more than a hot wind trying to topple mere blades of grass."
"How many times does this smurf have to tell you - I am not a Psyche!!!" Empath yelled, pushing Polaris away. "I may have smurfed up as one, but I've smurfed around with my fellow Smurfs long enough to know who and what I really am, so don't lecture to me!"
"Who and what you are, Empath, doesn't change the fact that your loss of control over your temper is an important matter," Polaris responded, unruffled by Empath pushing him back. "This one is not blind to the fact that Heftargan is using disinformation in an attempt to undermine your self-confidence and self-determination in trying to rescue your fellow Smurfs."
"Disinformation?!?" Empath exclaimed. "Heftargan could be smurfing us the truth, for all we would know. But this smurf swears, if this smurf ever found out that they are responsible for killing all the other Smurfs, even making Smurfette their perverse plaything, this smurf is going to avenge them!"
"Empath, listen to yoursmurf," the HoloSmurf counseled. "You're just assmurfing that those Schliphargons are smurfing the truth about the deaths of our lost fellow Smurfs. And even if they are right, what good would smurfing an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth with those warriors smurf you? It won't smurf anything to bring any of those lost Smurfs back, not even from the dead. Is that how you would want any of those Smurfs - Baby Smurf, the Smurflings, even Smurfette - to remember you as?"
"That wouldn't be a problem, HoloSmurf," Empath answered. "After this smurf is done smurfing some serious torment on the Schliphargons, this smurf is going to be joining my fellow Smurfs - wherever they happen to be after this life!"
HoloSmurf couldn't believe his ears. "You're not going to - smurf your own life?!?"
"Empath, you can't seriously believe that terminating your own life will bring you to your fellow Smurfs again in the hereafter," Polaris objected. "From what this one has read in your own people's literature, suicide is more likely to send your spirit into the land of Tartarus, where all condemned souls go when they die. You'll never know the potential happiness you may experience in this Elysium this one also has heard about, and you may be forever separated from your fellow Smurfs if they happen to be there before you."
"This smurf doesn't care about that anymore, Polaris," Empath snapped. "All I want is to smurf away from this horrid life that I happen to be smurfing, all the suffering and disappointments this smurf has to endure, and now this. If there are any Smurfs down in Tartarus by now, this smurf would be happy to have them smurfing by!" With that, he buried his face with his hands and continued to cry, refusing to listen anymore.
Polaris sighed, unable to do anything to allay Empath's fears. "Perhaps it is best for you to allow your feelings about wanting to die prematurely to dissipate on their own accord through your resting period, Empath," he suggested. "By morning, you should be able to think clearly and forget about Heftargan's incessant bragging."
Empath nodded but didn't say anything more. The HoloSmurf sat down beside Empath as he laid down by the base of a tree, holding the sobbing Smurf and trying to comfort him with the same voice Papa Smurf used to lull his little Smurfs to sleep when they were young. Polaris knew that when Empath was quiet and asleep, the HoloSmurf would instantly deactivate himself.
Polaris found a spot around the same tree that he thought would be comfortable for him and focused on drifting off into sleep himself. He hoped by the spirit of the Great Ancestors that he could help bring Empath about from his desire to kill himself and to renew his faith in his belief that his fellow Smurfs are waiting in time for him to rescue them.