Part 5

In Lord Balthazar's castle, the hunters presented the evil sorcerer with their prey. "Here is the bird that you wanted us to capture, and with it we bring this little blue man from the village we found him in," one of the hunters said.
"Excellent, excellent!" Balthazar said, sounding overjoyed. "Here is your reward for your services." He handed them a small bag of money as they handed over the Wishing Bird and Tapper. "Now leave me alone while I discover for myself what this Wishing Bird does and how it can help me get what I want."
"Yes, sir, my lord," both hunters said in turn as they bowed before leaving.
Balthazar looked at the little Smurf he held in one of his hands. "I suppose you know something about this Wishing Bird that you refuse to share with the men who have captured you," he said. "I can make things a lot easier for you. I may not promise you freedom, but I can make your death painless if you would kindly tell me how it is I can use the Wishing Bird to grant my wishes."
"If that's what you're after, then I would gladly suffer at your hands than smurf anything that would harm anyone, including my friends," Tapper said.
Balthazar sighed. "Such a pity you would choose the hard way." He reached out toward a small cage and placed Tapper inside it, closing the gate and locking it. Then he took the Wishing Bird and placed it in a larger cage, also locking it. "If you will not cooperate with me, then I will force the secret out of the Wishing Bird by boiling it alive. You will get to watch helplessly as I make your feathered friend very uncomfortable to the point where either of you will be glad to give me what I want to know."
Balthazar laughed evilly as he headed into another room, leaving Tapper alone with the Wishing Bird, who seemed to feel a bit fearful of what's going to happen to it.
"Do not fear, my feathered friend," Tapper said comfortingly. "I am very sure that our friends in the Smurf Village are going to rescue us very soon."

Empath, Polaris, and Duncan flew on the back of Feathers the crane as she took to the sky and headed in the direction of Lord Balthazar's castle. "This smurf has the feeling that dealing with Lord Balthazar is not going to be easy," Empath said.
"Aye, if Gargamel was an evil sort, then Balthazar is many times worse than he is," Duncan said. "I swear that this man would smurf things that would make the wretched old sorcerer smurf in his knickers."
"This one has heard that this Lord Balthazar is actually Gargamel's godfather," Polaris commented.
"Aye, that he is, Polaris," Duncan said. "I wouldn't be surprised if he paid for Gargamel's education as a sorcerer, for what little it would smurf him."
"This smurf only hopes we can get there before Lord Balthazar does anything evil to Tapper or the Wishing Bird," Empath said gravely.
"There it is," Duncan pointed out as they saw the tall darkly-lit castle coming into view as they got closer to it. A serpent in the moat raised up its head and tried snapping at Feathers as she flew near it, but the serpent missed its prey.
Feathers landed on the rooftop of one of the castle's towers. "Whatever we do, getting Tapper and the Wishing Bird out of there is our main priority," Empath said. "Let's try to avoid a confrontation with Balthazar at all costs."
"This one acknowledges and understands, Empath," Polaris said in agreement.
"That doesn't smurf like a lot of fun to me, laddies," Duncan said as they carefully made their way down the sloped rooftop.
Landing in one of the nearby windows, Empath, Polaris, and Tapper looked around to see if the coast was clear. Then they hopped inside and looked around to see if they could find any trace of Tapper or the Wishing Bird.
Then they entered the main laboratory and could see the Wishing Bird. It looked happy as it saw the Smurfs approaching it in its cage. "Salutations, fellow Wishing Bird," Empath greeted. "We only wish to help you escape."
"Duncan, I'm up here!" Tapper called out from the cage he was in.
"Excuse me, laddies, I've got to smurf my friend out of his prison," Duncan said as he headed toward a bookshelf and climbed up it to the topmost shelf.
"Have you brought any birdseed with you, Polaris?" Empath asked.
"This one came prepared, Empath," Polaris said, producing a small bag of birdseed he was carrying on a belt he was wearing. He poured a handful of it into Empath's hands, who then presented it to the Wishing Bird, who then ate of it until it spread out its tail feathers and started singing joyfully.
Duncan pulled as hard as he could on the gate of Tapper's cage until the lock broke and the gate opened. "Thanks, my fellow Duncan," he said as he hopped out of the cage and jumped down to the ground.
"No problem, laddie," Duncan said. "Now let's smurf ourselves out of here and..."
"YOU!" a threatening voice boomed loudly in the room. Empath, Polaris, Duncan, and Tapper could see that Lord Balthazar had entered the room again, blocking their way out. "I don't know what you did to cause that bird to sing, but it won't matter, because you will be joining it when I capture all four of you!"
"Oh yeah?" Duncan said. "Then I wish for your sorry smurf to be smurfed into Tartarus before you smurf a finger on any of us!"
Then instantly Empath, Polaris, Duncan, and Tapper saw that Lord Balthazar had vanished right in front of them. "Well, this smurf didn't expect this fight to be over so soon before it even started," Empath said.
"Not that this Lord Balthazar didn't deserve what has happened to him, Empath," Polaris said.
"Not that I fully approve of what has happened, my friends, but we'll smurf that in the hands of the Almighty to deal with," Tapper said.
"Aye, rightly so," Duncan said. "Do you still have some birdseed left, Polaris?"
"There is some left, though whether that will be enough is up to us to figure out," Polaris said, pouring out the rest of the contents of his bag.
"Give it to the Wishing Bird anyway," Empath said as he broke the lock on the Wishing Bird's cage, setting it free. The Wishing Bird devoured the remaining birdseed from Polaris' hand and then spread out its tail feathers and sang joyfully.
"Let us wish for a safe journey for all five of us, the Wishing Bird included," Tapper said.
"Let's not forget Feathers, laddie," Duncan said.
"Okay, then, and Feathers too," Tapper said.
And then suddenly all six of them were transported from Lord Balthazar's castle straight to the Smurf Village.

Meanwhile, Lord Balthazar found himself in a very dark place, unable to see anything...at first. It was so dark that it was making all the hairs on his skin stand up on end in fear. "Where...where in the blue blazes of Inferno am I?" he asked, as if expecting to find an answer.
Then suddenly everything lit up, and Balthazar saw that he was within a cavern full of seas of liquid lava surrounding him. The temperature was so unbearably hot that it was making Balthazar sweat all over. Then he saw a dark satyr-like figure standing before him with a pitchfork in his hand.
"You are in Tartarus, my friend," the dark figure said ominously. "And you are now my prisoner."
Balthazar felt his jaw dropping and his robes wet with warm urine as he heard the dark figure's hideous laughter.

Papa Smurf laughed when Duncan told what he had wished for when he, Empath, Polaris, and Tapper had confronted Lord Balthazar in his castle. "I'm sure that we won't smurf the last of Lord Balthazar yet, my little Smurfs, but at least for the time smurfing he won't harm us where he is now," Papa Smurf said.
"That's smurfy and all, but how about resmurfing things to the way it was before the Wishing Bird smurfed into the village?" Snappy asked.
"Yeah," Slouchy seconded. "I'm not sure I'm completely ready for a grown-up Sassette yet."
"Don't worry about that, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said assuringly as he held out toward the Wishing Bird a small pile of birdseed in his hands. The Wishing Bird ate up the birdseed, then spread out its tail feathers and sang joyfully. "Wishing Bird, I wish to have things smurfed back to normal among my little Smurfs."
Suddenly, Sassette felt herself instantly changing back into a Smurfling. "Smurfaroo, Pappy, I'm back to being young me again," Sassette said.
"I'm glad to have you back as your younger self, Sassy," Nat said.
"I hate being back to my younger self," Grouchy said.
Smurfette looked down at her shoes and realized that they were back to being her normal everyday shoes. "Oh dear," Smurfette moaned. "At least that wish was good while it lasted."
"It doesn't matter to this smurf, Smurfette, because this smurf still thinks you are very beautiful," Empath said.
"You're not just smurfing that in order to smurf for an apology from me, are you, Empath?" Smurfette said, looking at him suspicioulsy.
"Of course not, Smurfette," Empath replied. "Even if you don't forgive this smurf, this smurf still appreciates you for the Smurf that you are to this smurf."
Smurfette smirked. "Okay, at least this time I will forgive you."
Then suddenly Mother Nature appeared out of a swirl of autumn leaves. "Why, hello there, my little Smurfs," she greeted. "I came just as soon as I have received Papa Smurf's message. This is the Wishing Bird you were talking about, I believe."
"Yes, it is, Mother Nature," Papa Smurf said. "We humbly ask if you can smurf this bird somewhere that it can be protected from anyone else smurfing after it."
"Why, certainly, Papa Smurf," Mother Nature said. "I'll just deliver it to one of my special sanctuaries that nobody on Earth could ever reach. I trust that the Wishing Bird hasn't caused you any harm today."
"Well, as a matter of fact, Mother Nature...," Brainy began to say before Smurfette covered his mouth with her hand.
"There was no problem at all, Mother Nature," Smurfette said. "We were just smurfing our duty as Smurfs to care for all the creatures in this forest. Right, Smurfs?"
"RIGHT, SMURFETTE!!!" every other Smurf responded in unison.
Mother Nature laughed. "Well, I can smell that your Harvest Feast dinner is ready, and I will not keep you waiting any longer. You enjoy the rest of your day while I take good care of the Wishing Bird."
"BYE, MOTHER NATURE! BYE, WISHING BIRD!" the Smurfs said together as they watched Mother Nature and the Wishing Bird disappear in a swirl of autumn leaves.
Papa Smurf looked at Clumsy and noticed that he looked a bit sad. "What is wrong, my little Clumsy?" Papa Smurf asked.
"I was just wishing that the Wishing Bird could have stayed a bit longer with us, Papa Smurf, even with all the trouble it had caused," Clumsy answered. "I didn't even get to ask for my wish to smurf true."
"I know how you feel, Clumsy, but it's for the best that we had to smurf it up," Papa Smurf said consolingly. "It's nice to have a bird that can fulfill all your wishes, but it's better to appreciate the things you already have and be thankful for them, for those things will smurf away in time."
"Exactly what I was thinking, Papa Smurf," Brainy said. "And since this is the season to be thankful, I would like to smurf with all of you the contents of my latest book, The Many Things Brainy Smurf Is Thankful For," Brainy said, opening up his book and clearing his throat. "Ahem...the first thing that Brainy Smurf is thankful for is that..."
Brainy found himself hurled high over to the other end of the village, along with his book.
"Add another thing Brainy Smurf is thankful for...that this is the worst that the Smurfs can do to me," Brainy groaned after he landed on his head.

Empath's personal journal, supplemental.
This has been an eventful Harvest Feast Day for all the Smurfs. We had rescued a Wishing Bird from an evil sorcerer, and the Wishing Bird in turn allowed us to rescue ourselves from the sorcerer by sending him to Tartarus, where he will stay for an undefined period of time. We gave the Wishing Bird over to Mother Nature so that she could care for the creature and keep it safe, and Hefty's team had won the football game this year. All in all, we have been truly blessed that we have survived this day to end it with our annual feast that would honor Mother Nature for all the wonderful things she has given us this year.

At the dining commons in the early evening, all the Smurfs gathered around at the tables, sitting with their hands folded on the tables and waiting for Papa Smurf to give the annual blessing for the food that Greedy and his kitchen crew were just waiting to serve.
"Mother Nature, we as creatures in this forest humbly thank you for the wonderful bounty that you have smurfed for all of us, for nothing in the forest can survive without your provision, and we ask that you will continue to provide for us everything that we need to live in our everyday smurfy lives that will honor the gifts that you smurf upon us. And in this, so let it be."
"Excuse me while I smurf my blessing before we eat, Papa Smurf," Tapper interrupted. He stood up and prayed thus: "Oh, Father God the Almighty, in whom we live and move and smurf our being, may you bless the bounty that you have smurfed us and may it nourish our bodies as You seek to nourish our souls and spirits, and may we seek to honor You with our lives in the way that we smurf. In Your Son Jesus' name, I pray. Amen."
"Amen," Duncan, Empath, and Smurfette responded.
And soon the food was served, as every Smurf was given a plate full of Greedy's baked cornucopia, along with a serving of mashed potatoes, turnips, squash, corn, and cranberry sauce. Tapper helped Vino serve the drinks to every Smurf, whatever they desired, as much as they wanted.
"Mmmm...I love the Harvest Feast meal," Grouchy said as he ate with reckless abandon.
"Aye, you and me both there, laddie," Duncan said, his mouth full of food.
"Excuse me for a minute there, Smurfette," Empath said as he got up from his seat and went over to where the Smurflings were seated. "Uh, Sassette, about that kiss that I have smurfed some hours ago...well, this smurf wanted to say that, well..."
"It's okay, Empath, I understand," Sassette said. "I know that you're truly in love with Smurfette, and I'm fine with knowing what you smurfed with me really wasn't you at all. I just only wished it would be you, and things just smurfed out of hand."
"So there's no problems between us, Sassette," Empath said. "We're just good friends with each other, right?"
Sassette laughed. "Just smurf back to Smurfette, you big lover Smurf. I already have enough problems with the boy Smurflings. I'll be fine."
"Big lover Smurf?!?" the three boy Smurflings said together. "Ooooh...Sassette's in love with Empath! Sassette's in love with Empath! Sassette's in love with Empath!"
Smurfette noticed Empath had a smirk on his face when he returned to his seat next to hers. "Now what was that about?" Smurfette asked.
"This smurf can't help knowing that this smurf is the desire of two female Smurfs...one who is this smurf's age and one who is younger than this smurf," Empath said as he sat back down. "I mean, what is this smurf going to do with all this attention from the both of you?"
"Not that I approve of you ever smurfing after Sassette, but at least you should be thankful that we both care about you," Smurfette said.
"Well, at the very least, this smurf got to see the kind of Smurf that Sassette would grow up as, and this smurf thinks she would be a great Smurfette for one of her fellow Smurflings," Empath said.
"I think she would be great as well, Empath," Smurfette said. "But I just want to make one thing clear...no more smurfing after any other Smurfettes for you! You got that?"
Empath looked at Smurfette strangely. "You're really taking this smurf's fidelity towards you seriously, aren't you?"
"Uh-huh, and so should you," Smurfette said. "Now promise me you'll be serious about it."
"By the Great Ancestors, this smurf promises," Empath said solemnly.