Part 3

The next morning, Empath went and picked up his breakfast with most of his fellow Smurfs to eat at the dining commons. The Smurflings went to see Empath just as he sat down to start eating.
"Salutations, my fellow Smurflings," Empath greeted. "How are you feeling today?"
"We're fine, Empath," Nat said. "But Snappy's feeling a little hungry this morning."
"Oh, man, I can't wait to smurf into my breakfast, as long as it isn't those glowberries that I ate yesterday," Snappy said.
Empath smiled. "At least this smurf is glad to see that you have recovered from yesterday's experimentation with forbidden fruit, Snappy."
"By the way, where's Smurfette this morning?" Slouchy asked.
"Yeah, and where's Pappy Smurf?" Sassette added.
"From what this smurf could sense, Smurfette had to take Vanity to Papa Smurf's house this morning to get himself checked out for a nosebleed condition he's been having," Empath answered.
"Vanity had a nosebleed?" Nat asked, sounding curious. "But why?"
"Yeah, who or what smurfed him in the nose that he would smurf this thing?" Slouchy asked.
"I know Hefty doesn't particularly like Vanity's behaviors, but I wouldn't think he would smurf so low as to give him a nosebleed," Snappy said.
"Well, if it's not Hefty, then who would it be?" Sassette asked.
"The nosebleed was probably from an accident Vanity had while he was with the pixies during his visit, Smurflings," Empath said. "Anyway, we should keep such speculations to a minimum until we know for sure exactly what the cause of it is."
"I only hope that Vanity is all right, Empath," Nat said.
"Yeah, me too," Sassette said before the four of them walked away.
Tapper and Duncan soon joined Empath at the breakfast table. "Great Smurfiny Crickets, my good Empath, I would expect Smurfette to be sitting with you today," Tapper said.
"So what's with the little lassie, Empath?" Duncan asked.
"Smurfette had to take Vanity to see Papa Smurf about the nosebleed condition he's been having recently," Empath answered.
"A nosebleed?" Tapper said. "Now what could be causing Vanity to be even having a nosebleed?"
"Smurfs me if I knew, laddie," Duncan said. "Maybe the little peacock smurfed into a fight with someone and he lost. Not that he's much of a fighter anyway like his brother."
"But the pixies wouldn't have any reason to be smurfing a fight with Vanity, if that's where he's been spending the past few days," Tapper said.
"Maybe there's one who just couldn't stand the smurf of him, who knows?" Duncan said.
"Anyway, I see no point in trying to speculate the actual cause of this," Tapper said. "I will make sure that Vanity has my prayers for a full recovery from his condition."
"That's all that this smurf could ask of you, Tapper," Empath said.

Meanwhile, in Papa Smurf's laboratory, the village leader was busy giving Vanity a nasal examination to see what could be causing the nosebleed.
"You say that you smurfed home some fragrances from the pixies that could possibly be causing these nosebleeds?" Papa Smurf asked.
"Yes, Papa Smurf, that's what I told Smurfette," Vanity answered.
"But I couldn't smell anything that was coming from inside Vanity's house, Papa Smurf," Smurfette said.
"Hmmmm," Papa Smurf said, stroking his beard in thought after he finished his examination. "Well, your condition isn't too serious, but I would advise you not to continue working with those fragrances unless you're using nose plugs to protect your nasal cavities. Who knows what kind of damage they might be smurfing to the blood vessels that are so close to those cavities."
"Oh, I promise, Papa Smurf, I'll be more careful in working with them," Vanity said.
Papa Smurf got a long stick with a cotton-swabbed end and dabbed on it a silvery creamy solution. "Now this is going to burn a little, Vanity, but it should help heal the broken vessels so that your nose will stop bleeding." Vanity flinched as Papa Smurf stuck the swabbed end of the stick with the silvery solution into Vanity's nostril. After about a minute, Papa Smurf removed the stick. "There. Now just let it smurf in your nose for a while, and don't smurf open any of those fragrances that you've been working with, or this is not going to heal properly. You got that?"
"Oh, yes, Papa Smurf, I understand completely," Vanity said, sounding a bit relieved.
"Should I smurf him home to rest, Papa Smurf?" Smurfette asked.
"I think you should, to make sure that he smurfs complete rest, and that he doesn't overexert himself for the rest of the day," Papa Smurf answered. "Vanity, Smurfette will take care of you today to smurf you whatever it is you need. But under no circumstances are you to be smurfing with those fragrances, not until I'm sure you can be trusted smurfing with them safely. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Papa Smurf," Vanity said, sighing heavily.
"Don't worry, Vanity, I'm sure we can get things smurfed away with you as soon as we can," Smurfette said, taking Vanity's hand as he got up from his seat and the two of them left Papa Smurf's laboratory.
But Papa Smurf just continued to sit there and wonder.

"Really, Smurfette, you don't need to be smurfing in on me just to see how I'm smurfing," Vanity said as they walked together to his house. "I'll be perfectly fine."
"But I care about you, Vanity," Smurfette said. "This is your life that we're smurfing about here, and if those fragrances are dangerous for you to use without protection, I don't want to see you get hurt."
"Things will smurf much better now that I know, Smurfette," Vanity said.
"Something happened to you while you were visiting the pixies," Smurfette said. "The Vanity I know wouldn't be this secretive about these things that are smurfing on with you."
"It's better off that you didn't know everything, Smurfette," Vanity said. "Besides, you should smurf more of your attention on Empath than on me, since he's the Smurf you're always after."
"What I feel for Empath is not going to smurf in the way of how I feel for the rest of you, Vanity," Smurfette said. "If something is hurting you, then it's also going to hurt me, and I would rather you be honest than try to hide things from me."
"Fine, I'll try to be more honest with you in the future," Vanity said. "But right now, I just need some time for myself so that I don't become such an unsmurfy monster when I'm out of control."
"I don't think you'll turn into a monster, Vanity," Smurfette said. "You're much too gentle of a Smurf to ever smurf that to anyone, including me."
Vanity sighed. "You smurf much more faith in me than I ever would have."
Soon they reached the door of Vanity's house. "Well, I'll be checking in on you around lunchtime to see how you are. Sweet dreams, Vanity," Smurfette said.
"Sweet dreams to you, Smurfette," Vanity said, sounding like he was desperate to get rid of Smurfette. He quickly entered his house and closed the door behind him.
Smurfette flinched when she saw how abruptly Vanity closed the door on her. She wanted so much to find out what Vanity was doing inside his own house, but she didn't have Empath's abilities to scan the house to discover the secret. She just had to trust that Vanity would keep his word to rest. She quietly walked away while Vanity was carefully watching through the holes of his shutters to make sure she was gone.
Inside, Vanity felt himself beginning to shake. He never felt such anxiety like this before, as if he was hanging on the precipice of death waiting below. It was worse than being captured by Gargamel and threatened to be turned into gold. It was like his body just needed that white powder in order for him to survive. But Papa Smurf warned him to not be using those "fragrances" that are giving him those nosebleeds or something worse could happen.
He saw the bag that had the vials of white powder in them sitting in close view. He could feel the lure and the temptation to reach into the bag and pull out one of the vials that still had the powder left of the supply he was given. But then he stopped himself. "No, I won't. I won't do it. I promise that I will rest and give myself time to heal," he said to himself.
Vanity, give in to the pleasure of the pixie dust, a voice said inside his head.
"I am not listening to you!" Vanity said. "You're just a smurfment of my imagination! I am stronger than that!"
You'll never truly be strong unless you taste the wonderful power of the dust in your body, the voice spoke again. It won't harm you. Trust me and see for yourself.
And the voice kept repeating, Trust me, over and over while Vanity was trying to block it from his ears, finding himself being driven mad.

Smurfette joined Empath as he was talking to Polaris Psyche about the activities of the day. "How is Vanity, Smurfette?" Empath asked.
"I smurfed him home and he went inside to rest, but I swear there's something seriously wrong with him, I could feel it," Smurfette said.
"Maybe something happened to Vanity during his visit with the pixies that is causing his current behavior changes, Smurfette," Polaris said.
"That's what I was thinking, but Vanity won't tell me what it is," Smurfette said. "He's never been that secretive with me before."
"If it's something shameful, then maybe we should pay a visit to the pixies to find out what exactly happened, Smurfette," Empath said.
"But who among them would smurf such a thing to Vanity, and for what purpose?" Smurfette asked.
"It would still be worth mentioning to Papa Smurf, if perhaps he could find out from King Goldenrod exactly what was going on during Vanity's visit," Polaris said.
"This smurf would wholeheartedly agree with you on that, Polaris," Empath said before he saw something flashing before his eyes, a vision he couldn't ignore.
"Empath, what is it?" Smurfette asked, seeing the reaction in Empath's face.
"It's Vanity! He just collapsed in his house!" Empath said.
"Oh dear!" Smurfette cried out.
The three of them ran straight to Vanity's house. They entered and saw that Vanity was now lying on the floor, his face covered in a pool of blood.
"Oh, Vanity!" Smurfette said, tears coming down her face.
Empath briefly examined Vanity with his telepathy. "He's barely functioning, and his life signs are weak," Empath said. "We must smurf him to the infirmary immediately or he could die!"
"Empath, there's a vial of white powder next to Vanity's body," Polaris noted.
"Take that and bring it to Papa Smurf," Empath said as he carefully picked up Vanity's body. "We need to know exactly what it is and what Vanity is doing with it."
"This one understands and acknowledges, Empath," Polaris said as he took the vial with him while the three of them left the house with Vanity.
A crowd of Smurfs had gathered around outside Vanity's house as they saw Empath, Polaris, and Smurfette leave with Vanity. "Great Smurfness, what could have happened to Vanity?" one Smurf asked.
"I don't know, but I'm sure Empath is going to find out."
"What's with the blood on his face?"
"Yeah, did he get beaten up or what?"
"Whatever happened, Vanity sure smurfed the worst of it."
"Who would even dare to smurf such a thing to him?"
"Yeah, he hardly harms any other Smurf."
"We won't know until we hear it from Empath."
"Poor Vanity."

Papa Smurf was in the middle of an experiment when he heard an urgent knocking on the door. He opened and found out that it was Polaris Psyche.
"Papa Smurf, there has been an incident at Vanity's house," Polaris said. "He has been found unconscious with a considerable loss of blood, lying on the floor."
"Great Smurfs of Fire!" Papa Smurf exclaimed. "How did this happen?"
"This one had found this vial of white powder lying next to Vanity while this one and Empath were examining him," Polaris answered, handing Papa Smurf the vial in question.
Papa Smurf briefly examined the vial of its contents and recognized what it was. "This is pixie dust, Polaris," Papa Smurf said. "Only pixies are allowed to use this for magical purposes."
"So the question remains, what is Vanity doing with such a magical substance on hand?" Polaris asked.
"I don't know, Polaris, but I have a feeling that it's for something very unsmurfy," Papa Smurf said. "Let me smurf aside my experiment for a while so that I can help you deal with this problem. Where is Empath and Vanity?"
"Empath has taken Vanity to the infirmary, hopefully to help him recover, Papa Smurf," Polaris answered.
Papa Smurf nodded, understanding. "I'll join with you shortly."