Throughout the night, Empath found himself haunted by memories of that day, fighting the Schliphargons, hearing their leader Heftargan taunting him by saying that all his fellow Smurfs were dead, and getting ready to pound his quarterstaff into Heftargan's face when Polaris stopped him from doing so, allowing Heftargan more opportunities to get under Empath's skin with his rather vulgar insults. The comments kept repeating themselves on and on, sounding more menacing each time Empath heard them in his sleep. But then he heard another voice calling out to him, a sweet gentle voice drowning out Heftargan's, beckoning him.
"Empath, please wake up."
Empath thought he heard Smurfette calling him. But that was impossible, he thought. She and all the other Smurfs are trapped in time, aren't they? And yet he could hear her speaking to him loud and clear enough for him to hear.
Empath sat himself up from where he had been sleeping and opened his eyes to see Smurfette standing before him. Somehow she appeared more radiant than how he last remembered seeing her, wearing a glowing long sky-blue dress with a gold belt. "Smurfette?" he asked, unsure of what he was seeing.
The being standing before him smiled. "Empath, it's me, Smurfette! It's time for you to smurf home!"
"Come home?" Empath asked, unsure of what that meant. "You mean, you and all the other Smurfs, including Papa Smurf, have found a way back home to the Smurf Village?"
"No, you silly," Smurfette answered. "It's time to smurf home with us...to our new home up in the sky...a new place where Smurfs could smurf in peace and harmony."
Empath was more confused. He still had no idea how Smurfette came to be standing here, telling him all this. And what's with this bright whitish glow that came from her, and the halo on top of her head? He looked around and saw that it was morning, so he must have just awakened and his eyes weren't properly focused, that it was merely the new morning's light reflecting off of Smurfette, making her look angelic for some reason. Or maybe he was hallucinating again, seeing things from his dreams in a state where he wasn't fully awake. He reached out to touch Smurfette's face…and realized that it was no hallucination, and that he was awake.
"What this smurf meant...is how did you get back to this time period?" Empath asked, trying to make more sense about the whole thing. "This smurf thought that you and all the other Smurfs have lost the Key of Chronos somewhere in time and are trapped journeying from one time period to another!"
"Oh, that!" Smurfette realized. "Well, the truth is, we have all died!"
Empath's eyes opened wide with disbelief. "Died?!? But how...? Where...? When...? I mean, if that is true, then how are you standing here telling this smurf?"
"I am standing here smurfing you all this because you have died here, Empath," Smurfette answered. "Last night, you wished that you were dead so that you could be with us once again in case we were dead. Well, the gods have answered your prayers, and they have smurfed me down here to take you home with us."
"This smurf is dead, too?" Empath asked, still not believing all that he was taking in until he noticed that his body was still lying on the ground, the same way it was when he fell asleep. He gasped as he now saw himself as nothing more than a spirit, all translucent and glowing just like Smurfette. He thrusted his hand into his own body and saw it passing through like it was just air. "Great Ancestors!" he gasped. "This can't be happening!"
"It has happened, Empath," Smurfette told him. "The life that you once knew as a Smurf in this world is over. It's time for you to know life as a Smurf in the here beyond, which is greater than anything you have ever experienced."
"But I don't want to leave this world yet, Smurfette," Empath cried. "There's so much that this smurf has yet to experience here. This smurf cannot go with you!"
"You cannot turn back from this journey, Empath," Smurfette insisted. "You must say goodbye to the life you once knew, for it no longer matters. Come with me, and join all your fellow Smurfs again in the here beyond, for they all await you there. Join us, and you'll never have to know the pain of living alone. For in the here beyond, there is no more pain, no more suffering...only eternal happiness!"
At that point, Empath found himself drifting uncontrollably upward with Smurfette as she rose toward the sky, toward the bright blazing light he could now see that wasn't coming from the rising sun. He looked down to see his body still laying there, lifeless.
"Great Ancestors!" he exclaimed. "This can't be happening! All of this smurf's fellow Smurfs couldn't have died...could they?"
"Do not worry anymore about our fates, Empath," Smurfette called out to him, sounding incredibly cheerful about this. "Just let your past go and fly with me to a place where life is eternal and free of all burdens!"
Empath realized he had no choice. He allowed himself to float even higher, as high as Smurfette was flying, until he found the both of them so high above the clouds that they could no longer see the ground beneath them. Up ahead, the bright light grew larger, as if it were a portal into another world opening itself up.
Empath and Smurfette flew into the blazing light, and then beyond it they could see another village that looked very much like the Smurf Village, only now it was much cleaner and more beautiful than the village that existed back in the living world, its roads paved with bright reflecting gold. In fact, the entire village, including its mushroom cottages, looked like it was made of gold. And then Empath saw...all his fellow Smurfs, all living their lives as if nothing had ever happened to them, and they too were wearing halos. They saw Empath and Smurfette arriving and gathered over to where they had landed to greet him. Among them, Empath saw, was... "Papa Smurf?"
"Empath!" Papa Smurf exclaimed, obviously excited about seeing him again.
"Welcome to your new home, laddie," Duncan McSmurf said, standing next to Papa Smurf as he saw Empath arrive with Smurfette.
Empath was so overwhelmed in emotion he couldn't help hugging Papa Smurf. "It's been so long since this smurf saw you back in the village. This smurf didn't think we would ever meet again," he whimpered, unable to keep the tears from flowing.
"We were worrying about the same thing ourselves, Empath," Duncan said with some empathy in his voice. "Believe me, I would have wanted our reunion to smurf under better circumstances, but we can't complain about where we all ended up now, can we?"
"It's all right, Empath," Papa Smurf said in the same soothing tone Empath was familiar with. "We didn't expect anything like this to happen oursmurfs. We're just glad that you're back among us, even if it isn't among the living. Do not weep anymore, for you are in Elysium...the place of eternal paradise and happiness."
Empath opened his eyes and saw his fellow Smurfs also greeting him, telling him how much they missed having him around. Apparently, no Smurf ever seemed unhappy about being here, in this place called paradise. Even Grouchy, who seemed very unpleasant to be around, felt as if he was at peace with himself.
"My little Smurfs," Papa Smurf announced, "today we must celebrate the return of our lost Smurf, who has left the land of the living to share in the eternal joy of being a Smurf in the hereafter. May he be as happy as we are now that we are all together again."
Every Smurf cheered, and surrounded Empath with more hurrahs.
Empath never felt so happy in his life. It was as if all the pain in the world had disappeared from his memory - being away in Psychelia, killing Polluxis, reliving the nightmare of his father leaving him in Psychelia, watching Papa Smurf die, and in recent memory, being left alone in the Smurf Village. It was like being born again.
Smurfette took Empath in her arms and kissed him fully on the lips.
Empath felt surprised by this. "What did you kiss me like that for?" he asked.
"Just wanted to let you know that we're also married!" Smurfette answered, smiling.
"Married?" Empath asked, confused. "I mean, back when we were alive, you and this smurf were very good friends, but...how could we be married now? We never exchanged vows or anything like that!"
"That's the best part about being in Elysium," Smurfette told him. "The souls of those who truly love each other are forever joined as one and nothing can break the bond between us now."
Empath was still trying to take it all in, to accept this as actually happening. It was as if everything happening to him was just too good to be true. To hear now that Smurfette truly loved him was beyond his ability to believe. Somehow he found himself walking away from Smurfette, feeling not ready to accept what she was giving him.
Sassette came up to him. "What's wrong, Empath?" she asked, genuinely concerned. "Aren't you happy to be back among us once again?"
Empath sighed. "There's just so much that this smurf wanted to do while this smurf was living, that this smurf thought I had all the time in the world to do it, and now we're dead and gone," he told Sassette. "Smurfette never even knew how much this smurf had loved her. This smurf wanted to tell her so much before she went away."
"Smurfette already knows, Empath," Sassette responded. "In fact, every Smurf here now knows how much you love Smurfette, and how much she loves you. No Smurf can feel that much happier knowing that the two of you are back together again."
"But...like this?" Empath asked. "This all seems too good to be true...I mean, something about this just isn't right, and this smurf doesn't know what it is!"
"Smurf a walk with me and let me smurf you," Sassette offered. Empath accepted the offered hand and went with Sassette around the entire village, where they saw various Smurfs doing the things they always loved doing the best - whether it was working, playing, or just resting. He saw Greedy at a table devouring a feast fit for a king, and yet never feeling full. He saw Jokey playing his pranks as usual on unsuspecting Smurfs, but his victims laughed as well as those who watched. He saw Vanity constantly decorating the village with flowers and streamers, and then checking his reflection in his mirror to see how he looked with his personal touches. Yet none of the other Smurfs seem to make fun of Vanity doing this. He saw Brainy lecturing to a group of Smurfs who never seemed bored or even eager to kick him far beyond the village. He saw Clumsy having fun arranging rocks and playing with mud, and even though he still kept bumping into the other Smurfs, no one ever complained about it.
"You see, Empath?" Sassette summarized. "This is the place where all the good little Smurfs go when they die, and here it's much smurfier than it was back in the land of the smurfing because no one ever needs to complain about anything."
"Aye, ain't that the truth?" another voice chimed in. Empath saw that Tapper had greeted him, bringing along two mugs of sarsaparilla ale. He handed Empath one of the mugs. "May we toast our inevitable reunion in a place that no evil can ever smurf us, the ultimate reward for being a Smurf!"
"Tapper, this seems a bit odd for you," Empath commented, taking the other mug. "You don't seem like the kind of Smurf who would just celebrate with a glass of sarsaparilla ale at any occasion."
"Then you have never tasted this kind of sarsaparilla ale before, Empath," Tapper smiled, "because this ale smurfs nothing to you other than tasting so good, it's heavenly." He raised his mug high toward Empath. "To Empath, the last living Smurf who now smurfs in heaven!"
Empath decided to go along with the toast. "To Tapper, the first Smurf to introduce this smurf to the wonders of sarsaparilla ale!" He clinked his mug together with Tapper's and then took a long swig of the frosty ale. He had to admit one thing - it truly tasted better than it did back in the land of the living.
He was so taken in by the whole scene, he didn't notice a slight glint in Tapper's eye that would have made Empath suspect something.
Meanwhile, in another place, two pairs of eyes looked through Tapper's and saw Empath in this world beyond death, looking as if he was truly happy being where he was right now. They chortled maliciously as they continued to watch Empath through this "window of the soul".
"This is so disgustingly pure and sweet," one of the pairs of eyes spoke with great disdain. "Why are we wasting our time with this 'afterlife' when we can just simply take this warrior Smurf and make him accept your great gift of godhood?"
"Dissonance, you should know by now about the art of evil," the other pair of eyes reprimanded. "You can't make such a noble creature like a Smurf bend to your will by force...you have to give him something to desire, something that would be impossible for him to resist, even if it's the promise of being reunited in heaven with his fellow Smurfs. Besides, another great thing about the art of evil is that you can make your designs so inconspicuous that whoever accepts its forbidden fruit will never know what's happening around them until it's too late. Right now, all Empath knows is that he is with his fellow Smurfs again, and he would do anything they would ask of him, even if it happens to be in this 'afterlife'."
"And what if Empath refuses to go along with this, and finds out the truth behind this 'happy family reunion'?" the first voice asked, not sounding convinced.
"I don't think Empath is going to refuse, one way or another," the second voice answered, very certain of what's going to happen.
Meanwhile, back in Elysium, Empath was having the time of his life, playing with his fellow Smurfs in several nonstop rounds of smurfball. Given the state he was in as well as that of his fellow Smurfs, not only were the players so evenly matched that it made matches rather challenging for one team to get the best of the other, but also the players themselves never seemed to tire out no matter how long they played. Also, without Empath's mind's-eye abilities being active in this place, it made Hefty seem less intimidated to keep playing smurfball with him. Nevertheless, Empath was surprised to be making even impossible moves that would have left a normal Smurf seriously sprained trying to emulate had this game been played back down on Earth among the living.
He could also see Smurfette standing on the sidelines, watching Empath play and cheering him on - something he rarely if ever saw Smurfette do when it came to being around her fellow Smurfs playing any kind of physical sport. Somehow he could sense that bond that Smurfette said was now between them that nothing could ever break, their now being "married in heaven". He could only wonder what it would be like being with Smurfette like that for eternity in a place that existed for eternity, what the kind of being alone and together with her would feel like. He remembered from what Tapper read in his holy book that those who were worthy of the resurrection would neither marry nor be given in marriage, but would be like the angels in heaven. Maybe here in paradise, Empath thought, it would be totally beyond the mere physical pleasure that is part of marriage on earth. Maybe just being in her presence alone would simply give him all the pleasure he would ever need.
After about what seemed like hours playing smurfball, however, Empath decided to call it quits. "What's the matter, Empath?" Hefty asked, sounding more concerned than condescending, as he usually was around Empath. "Not having enough fun smurfing your best against me in this game?"
"Just something that came to this smurf's mind, Hefty," Empath answered. "This smurf would like to continue playing with you later on, if you're available for another round."
"You'll know that I'll be here, smurfing for you," Hefty reminded him before he resumed playing the game with whatever players were left, with Wild Smurf taking Empath's place on the team opposite Hefty's. Empath briefly looked at Wild, feeling happy to see him getting fully acquainted with all his fellow Smurfs after years of living alone in the forest as a wanderer, even if now he was among the dearly departed. He couldn't think of a better place that Wild could ever feel at peace with himself and others besides Elysium.
A short while later, Empath was somewhere beyond the village, using Dreamy's telescope to look downward upon the earth. He was trying to see something, but looking somewhat disappointed. Smurfette stood by Empath's side, wondering. "What are you trying to smurf with the telescope, Empath?" she asked.
"This smurf is only trying to see if this smurf can find Polaris Psyche down there among the living, Smurfette," Empath answered. "Unfortunately, the only thing this smurf can see are more and more clouds down below us, and the stars and the universe above us."
"You shouldn't need to concern yoursmurf anymore about what smurfs on down there," Smurfette stated. "The living will continue to take care of itsmurf, and whosoever passes away will find themselves either up here in Elysium, wherever they desired to smurf, or down in Tartarus."
"But this smurf still feels the need to go down there somehow and tell Polaris Psyche that everything will be all right, Smurfette," Empath insisted. "Somehow this smurf feels that letting Polaris know is the right thing for this smurf to do, so he can go on with his own life."
"Trust me, Empath, Polaris already knows," Smurfette promised, taking Empath's attention away from the telescope and toward her. "You have a greater role to fulfill up here than down there, for the gods have declared that you shall be smurfed as a god."
"'Smurfed as a god'?" Empath asked. "Which gods are you referring to, Smurfette, that have called upon this smurf to become a god?"
"The ones that smurfed up all of us, Empath," Smurfette answered. "They smurfed your heart and your deeds, and they smurfed you worthy of bearing the mantle of a god. That's why you have been smurfed from your earthly body and smurfed this new heavenly body. Nothing that's earthly can ever enter Elysium, not even someone as wicked as Gargamel."
Before Empath could ask anything more, they both heard Harmony's trumpet - sounding more in tune than it did when they were among the living - blasting out a signal from the center of the village.
"My smurfness...the glorious feast is about to begin!" Smurfette exclaimed. "We're going to be late for it if we don't smurf back there soon!"
"Smurfette, how can we be late if we're in heaven?" Empath asked. "Aren't we supposed to have all the time in the world in heaven, since it exists for all eternity?"
"Oh," Smurfette giggled shyly. "I didn't even realize that…I guess I'm just so used to smurfing in a world of time, I'm still trying to adjust to a world without time! But let's smurf back there right away anyway!" She took Empath's hand and they both flew back to the village, where the large X-shaped table was arranged in the square and all the Smurfs were gathered around it.
"Empath, you're just in time," Papa Smurf called out as Empath and Smurfette landed. "Come, smurf by my side...I've saved the best seat at the table just for the smurf of honor!"
"This smurf appreciates the gesture, Papa Smurf," Empath replied, smiling as he sat down beside Papa Smurf, Grandpa Smurf, and Nanny. "What exactly is on the menu for this 'glorious feast'?"
"Just the food of the gods, Empath," Greedy answered, bringing forth a giant serving dish that he lifted the cover from as he set it upon the table, revealing fresh-baked rolls and smurfberry wine. "Smurf one bite of this bread, and you'll never have to hunger for anything again...though if you know me, it won't stop me from eating!"
Empath chuckled at that as he took a roll from the serving dish and ate it nice and hot. He never tasted bread like this before. It was just like how Tapper's sarsaparilla ale had now tasted up here...simply heavenly.
"May we smurf a toast to the bravest Smurf that's ever smurfed," Hefty stood up and announced with a glass of smurfberry wine in his hand. "He may be star-faced, but he's no double-crosser."
"Aye, Hefty, there is not a single Smurf here like Empath, and there will never be another one like him ever again," Duncan seconded.
"To Empath," the other Smurfs all responded, raising their glasses skyward in salute before taking a sip. Empath did the same.
"And now smurfs the moment we've all been waiting for, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf declared as he got up from his seat. "Sculptor, will you please smurf the honors?"
Sculptor nodded, and then pulled a sheet away from what turned out to be a statue. Every Smurf gasped, as did Empath, when they saw that it was a statue of Empath. But what startled Empath was that his likeness was wearing a Grecian warrior's breastplate and a long flowing cape, carrying a sword in one hand and a bolt of lightning in the other.
"What's the meaning of this statue, Papa Smurf?" Empath asked.
"Didn't you already know, Empath?" Papa Smurf answered. "The gods have decreed that you shall be smurfed as the god of conquest, for your very actions among the living have smurfed you as worthy of the title."
"Long smurf Empath, the god of conquest!" the other Smurfs cheered.
"God of conquest?!?" Empath exclaimed. "This doesn't make any sense, Papa Smurf. I mean, we are still Smurfs, aren't we? None of you would have made it here to Elysium if all Smurfs ever cared about was conquest!"
"That was among the living, Empath," Papa Smurf replied. "But now look at what the forest would smurf like without us smurfing in it! The humans who started smurfing in it will overrun and destroy everything we smurf sacred in the forest - even the great oak tree. They smurfed too much from us, and now it's up to one of us to avenge our lost spirits and protect the forest from the humans before they do their worst."
"Yeah," another Smurf joined in, enthusiastic. "That was our forest!"
"Our forest?" Empath asked. "Papa Smurf, you always said that the forest doesn't belong to only us. We don't have the right to decide who should live in the same forest that we do and who shouldn't."
"But now, Empath, we do have the right," Papa Smurf answered, more insistent. "And with you as the chosen one, we can smurf back what was ours and live again among the creatures that belong in our forest. We worshipped you from the day you were smurfed into being, and we will continue to worship you for all eternity…once you become the god of conquest!"
Empath found himself surrounded by all his fellow Smurfs, begging, pleading, insisting that he should accept the role of godhood that he was given. It was like the day his fellow Smurfs wanted him to overthrow Gargamel all by himself and send him away from the forest. But it was worse, for Papa Smurf was now among them who wanted Empath into this role.
Finally, Empath couldn't take it anymore. He screamed, and as he screamed he instinctively threw a punch in the air in the direction of the statue. Instantly, the statue of Empath was shattered into a million pieces.
Every Smurf present was offended by the sight of this action Empath took. "Empath, how could you smurf this to us?" one of them asked angrily. "We smurf you back among us once again, and this is how you repay us - by turning down the offer of becoming an avenging angel?"
"You're not the same Smurf we once knew, Empath," another Smurf joined in. "You've been smurfed away from us for too long, you can't even think like a Smurf."
"No son of mine is going to smurf up on such a decree," Papa Smurf roared. "You disgrace the whole village and your own Smurf heritage with this outright refusal."
"How could I have ever loved a Smurf like you, Empath?" Smurfette hissed. "You make me regret ever smurfing in love with you back among the living."
As Empath watched, every Smurf slowly started decaying - skin, clothes, halos, everything - until he realized that he was being surrounded by zombies, resurrected bodies brought back to life through mystical forces for dark sinister purposes. It was a horrid sight for him to behold. Even the village of gold decayed around him.
"If you will not avenge us," they all said in unison, "then you will join us!"