In the middle of the night, when all the Smurfs were asleep, Empath was awakened by a voice calling him. "Empath Smurf, this one needs to speak with you."
He turned in his bed and saw who it was. "Traveler Smurf?"
"It is this one, Empath," Traveler said. "This one has awakened you for the purpose of witnessing something about your fellow Smurf Hefty."
"Why?" Empath asked. "Is something terrible going to happen to him?"
"Nothing that this one can reveal as the time guardian, Empath," Traveler said. "However, his interest in Smurfette does concern this one, because his actions in pursuing a romantic relationship with her may affect events in the future."
"But how might it affect future events?" Empath asked. "It would seem inevitable that Smurfette and this smurf might marry sometime soon, wouldn't it?"
"Again, it is one of those things that this one cannot reveal to you, Empath," Traveler said. "However, this one can show you what might happen if one of his wishes concerning you actually came true."
"Well, how do you propose to show this smurf?" Empath asked.
"We must enter Hefty's house and get into contact with him for this one to show you how you will witness it," Traveler said.
And as Empath got out of bed, he was immediately in his Psychelian bodysuit which he wore during the winter months in the Smurf Village. Then Traveler took him by the hand and transported him right into Hefty's bedroom, where they both saw its resident asleep in his bed.
"Okay, now how does this smurf get to witness one of Hefty's wishes about this smurf coming true?" Empath asked, keeping his voice low as to not disturb Hefty.
"There is no need for you to lower your voice, Empath, for as long as we're both standing outside of time, Hefty will never know that either of us are in his bedroom," Traveler said. "Now this one will touch both Hefty and you at the same time, and then you'll be transported to that moment where history will diverge to reveal events that will take a different course than the one you already know. Are you ready?"
"Will Hefty even know what you're doing to him?" Empath asked.
"It is likely that he may see it as a dream or a brief flash of images," Traveler said. "In either case, he will not know who has done it."
"You're the Smurf who knows what you're doing, Traveler," Empath said. "This smurf will leave this part in your hands."
"Then join your hands with this one's and we will begin," Traveler said. Empath grabbed Traveler's left hand while the time guardian reached out and placed his right hand inside Hefty's head. There was a brief flash of images as they saw time reverse itself, and then they saw that it was now a year after Empath had left Psychelia for good, and Papa Smurf had sent the young Smurf to Homnibus to run some errands for the elderly human wizard while they prepared for his 151st birthday party. It was now the day of the birthday party, and Empath had come home to celebrate it.
Empath arrived in the village to find that nobody was there except Puppy, who eagerly greeted him with a friendly lick.
"This smurf is pleased to see you as well," Empath said with a laugh. "Do you know where all of the other Smurfs went?"
Puppy barked out an answer that Empath understood.
"Oh, really? Well, this smurf might as well check there. Thanks, Puppy."
Empath headed straight for Tapper's Tavern, which is unusually roomy for such a place for Smurfs to just relax and be alone in. He sensed that a magic spell was cast upon the entire village, and he had a feeling that it was Papa Smurf who was responsible for it just so Empath couldn't find out where the Smurfs were holding a surprise party for him.
The instant Empath entered the tavern, all of the Smurfs within it shouted, "Surprise! Happy smurfday, Empath!"
"So that's where you Smurfs have been," Empath said, sounding surprised although he really wasn't. "You know, this smurf has been searching all over the village for you, and then this smurf comes here, and guess what...you're all safe and sound!"
"We never want you to be worried about us, Empath," Papa Smurf said. "We just want to make your smurfday party special for you!"
Smurfette greeted Empath with a kiss. "Smurf over here, big boy, and blow out the candles!" She led him over to the counter where there was a moderately-sized cake with some candles on it. Everyone cheered as he blew them out.
"And now, for the smurfday boy, a mug of my special brew of sarsaparilla ale," Tapper said, producing a tall mug of the frothy liquid.
Empath took a hearty sip. "Mmmm, just the way this smurf likes it, Tapper!" he said, wiping the foam off his mouth.
"You shouldn't have wiped the smurf off your mouth there, laddie," Duncan McSmurf said. "You could have smurfed yourself a moustache!"
"This smurf would rather have the whiskers around your face, Duncan," Empath said. "It would keep this smurf's face warm during the cold nights!"
"You got to be a Smurfsman like me to have them, my boy," Duncan said. "Of course, not every Smurfsman has the good fortune of smurfing them at such a young age."
"Well, as long as this smurf doesn't have to wear the kilt," Empath said.
"I'd rather be smurfing a kilt than those dark skivvies you and them Psyches are smurfing," Duncan said. "You make me embarrassed just to smurf at you in that."
"Empath, you have to open my present first," Brainy said as he presented it to Empath. "You'll see why it's so special."
Empath promptly unwrapped Brainy's present. "Why, it's...the first edition of your Quotations of Brainy Smurf...translated into Psychelian!" he exclaimed.
"See, Empath, I wanted to show you that I was capable of smurfing one of my books into the language you read," Brainy said proudly. "Not that transsmurfing from Smurf to Psychelian was really that easy, but if the Psyches were to visit this village someday, I, Brainy Smurf, want to be the first to smurf that gap between them with a book that they can smurf in their own language."
Empath smiled. "This smurf is sure that you mean well, Brainy. It's just that this smurf doesn't think they'll be paying a friendly visit anytime soon, if ever."
"Well, why not?" Brainy asked. "Matter of fact, how come you won't write a book about the wisdom of the Psyches? I'm sure that they must be intellectual geniuses or they wouldn't have trained you to be just as smart as I am or as Papa Smurf."
"Brainy, Psychelian wisdom isn't all that it's cracked up to be," Empath commented. "They live in a society that's very restrictive about what they let in. Nobody in Psychelia really knows anything unless the Psyche Master wills it to be known to the general public, and only through what he calls 'proper channels'."
"But the Smurf Village would certainly benefit from that wisdom, least of all mysmurf," Brainy pleaded.
"What I learned from Psychelia as far as wisdom, Brainy, is that not everything I learned there is worth sharing," Empath said frankly.
"Now you're just making it difficult, Empath," Brainy shot back. "One day I'm going to find out for mysmurf just how wise the Psyches really are, and you're going to regret not smurfing it in a book for the whole village to read because I'm going to smurf it in a book first."
"Hey, Empath, smurf at this!" Jokey called out. Empath turned his attention toward the village comedian. "Now tell me which face I'm smurfing here."
Empath saw Jokey's facial expression with some amusement. "It would appear that you're trying to imitate the expression of a Psyche."
"Wrong, Empath...I was trying to imitate your face!" Jokey laughed. "At least it was your face when you were still trying to get used to being a Smurf."
"Not a bad impersonation of that, Jokey, but this smurf can sense that you were a bit twitchy," Empath commented.
"Hey, smurf me some credit," Jokey snapped. "It's not easy trying to smurf my face like it was made of stone. I had to practice this face all day just to smurf it right. I bet you couldn't smurf your face straight when you returned to Psychelia after smurfing with us for a year."
"Come to think of it, Jokey, there were times in Psychelia when this smurf was like ready to explode in laughter and this smurf was having trouble trying to keep this smurf's composure while standing with a group of Psyches listening to our instructors," Empath mentioned. "Of course, this smurf did get punished whenever this smurf totally lost it and just simply burst out in laughter. But personally it was worth suffering those punishments just to see the look on every Psyche's face. It was totally priceless."
"I knew that smurfing around with me would get you smiling sooner or later," Jokey said. "I bet that I can smurf the same to those Psyches, who seem to smurf the same facial expression for everything."
"You might find that rather difficult, if not impossible, Jokey," Empath warned. "If anything, they might just get annoyed and simply walk away from you. Life in Psychelia isn't like living in a constant amusement park."
"I'll get them to crack someday, Empath...you just wait!" Jokey promised.
Just then, there was a knock on the door. One of the Smurfs answered it, and it turned out to be a few members of the Psychelian Guard Elite, which Empath recognized.
"We are under orders from the Psyche Master to retrieve the Psyche who must now return to Psychelia," one of the guards announced.
"Surely you must be mistaken," Papa Smurf said. "The Psyche Master promised that Empath would be released from Psychelia upon his 150th birthday."
"The Psyche Master no longer recognizes that promise, stranger," the second guard said. "Empath Psyche is our property, and you will do best to not interfere with our retrieving it."
"You hold on there, laddie," Duncan said as he approached them. "Nobody's going to smurf Empath out of here without a fair smurfing on both sides."
The second guard used his energy staff to blast Duncan away, causing him to knock over a table as well as a few Smurfs.
"How dare you smurf that in my village!" Papa Smurf shouted. "I demand that I speak with the Psyche Master about this change in policy right now!"
"You are not in a position to demand anything, stranger," the third guard said. "Empath belongs to us, and if any of you interfere with our retrieval, we will deal with you in the same manner."
"This smurf will go along with you without any resistance," Empath said, sighing with resignation.
"Empath! No! Please don't smurf this!" Smurfette cried out.
"This smurf apologizes, Smurfette, but this smurf must do what is right for the safety of this village," Empath said. "This smurf will need some time to get dressed in this smurf's proper attire."
"We will accompany you to make sure you do not delay in your duties," one of the guards said as Empath left the tavern.
Soon Empath was dressed in his Psychelian bodysuit with his regular Smurf clothes packed in his backpack, and the Smurfs are all gathered around the village square to say goodbye to him as he was going to return to Psychelia.
"I'm sorry that you'll never get to enjoy the freedom that you were promised to smurf on your last smurfday, Empath," Papa Smurf said.
"One year of freedom is better than nothing, Papa Smurf," Empath said. "At least this smurf now knows that you are my father, and that this smurf is your son. How long this smurf will even remember it, this smurf doesn't know."
"Oh, Empath, I only wish we could smurf more time together," Smurfette said as she hugged him. "I don't know when I will ever smurf you again."
"Hopefully it will be in another ten years, Smurfette," Empath said. "By then this smurf hopes that you will still be thinking about this smurf, and if your heart leads you to loving another Smurf besides this smurf, then may you find your happiness through him."
"I don't think I can ever be truly happy being without you now," Smurfette said.
"We must be on our way to return to Psychelia, Empath," one of the guards insisted.
Empath gave Smurfette a brief kiss. "Farewell until we meet again, Smurfette," he said before the guards took him by the hands and flew off with him while the other Smurfs said their goodbyes.
Tapper noticed Smurfette crying and went over to hold her. "I smurfed a feeling that Empath's time with us was always too smurfy to last, my dear Smurfette," Tapper said.
"It's just not fair that Empath has to be smurfed away from us once more," Smurfette said.
"I know how you feel, Smurfette," Papa Smurf said, also shedding a tear. "The Psyche Master has broken his promise, and the best that we can hope for is that Empath will return to us in another ten years. In the meantime, we must continue to smurf on as we normally do and not let such things keep us from smurfing."
"But I don't want to smurf on without Empath, Papa Smurf," Smurfette said as she rushed to her home crying.
"I hate smurfing on without Empath," Grouchy shouted, finding himself in tears.
Hefty found himself having to comfort Sassette, who was crying her eyes out. "What are we going to smurf now that we don't have Empath to play with anymore?" she asked.
"We'll smurf through this like we always do, Sassette," Hefty said. "It's for the best that Empath returns to Psychelia. We'll get to smurf him again someday."
"Oh, dear Almighty, I pray in this need of grief and mourning that you will comfort us with the promise that we will smurf our friend again," Tapper whispered as he looked up into the night sky.
Soon in Psychelia, Empath stood before the Psyche Master in his chamber. "Why have you brought this one back to Psychelia?" he asked. "Haven't you promised Papa Smurf that you would release this smurf upon my 150th birthday?"
"Your Papa Smurf is an outsider, Empath, and I do not honor such agreements with outsiders," the Psyche Master said. "He gave up his right of ownership upon your life years ago when he had left you in Psychelia, which means that you are forever mine to do with as I please. This means from now on you will never be allowed anymore visits to the Smurf Village."
"No more visits to the Smurf Village?" Empath asked, not believing what he was hearing. "This smurf will never accept that decision coming from you, not now and not ever. You can't force me to stay here my entire life."
"You are no longer a Smurf, and thus you shall never address yourself as one," the Psyche Master said. "From now on, everything you knew about your life outside Psychelia will not even be a memory, for I shall purge you of all your knowledge until the only thing you know how to be is a Psyche."
"This smurf will resist you, Psyche Master," Empath bravely stated. "You will never succeed in breaking this smurf."
"Resistance is futile," the Psyche Master ominously spoke. And in the next moment, Empath's brain was flooded with such incredible pain as everything he knew about his life as a Smurf up until that point was gone.
The guards came into the chamber. "Take this Psyche back to his quarters and place the restraining cuffs on him," the Psyche Master said. "His training will recommence, and he will forever be obedient to my will. Acknowledge."
"This one acknowledges, Psyche Master," each of the guards said as they carried Empath to his quarters, where Polaris Psyche was sleeping.
As Empath laid sleeping, a single tear fell from his eye.