Meanwhile, Smurfette was trying to keep Polaris company while he was laid up in the infirmary. "So how's my brave and handsome Psyche doing?" Smurfette asked, trying to lighten the mood.
"That is one of the few times you would ever call this one 'brave' and 'handsome', Smurfette," Polaris said.
"I wouldn't say it if I truly didn't mean it, Polaris," Smurfette said as she sat by his beside. "I just don't get to meet as many Psyches as I would have to smurf a comparison between you and anyone else now, would I?"
"If any Psyche truly cared about themselves to make notice of such comparisons of their physical appearances, they would most likely be fighting among themselves to prove that they are 'the most beautiful' or 'the most handsome' of all the Psyches, Smurfette," Polaris said. "However, this one does appreciate you taking notice of this one to make such favorable comments about this one's appearance."
"You know that I'm going to miss you being around in the Smurf Village, Polaris," Smurfette said. "You're one of the best things that Empath has smurfed into it because you're not afraid of just being yourself even when you have the choice of becoming like one of us."
"There's a part of being a Psyche that this one never wants to let go of, Smurfette," Polaris said. "Not that this one doesn't appreciate all the effort that the Smurfs have put into making this one feel like being one of you, but if this one had to live his life being anything else than a Psyche, then this one would rather not want to live at all."
"Please don't say that, Polaris," Smurfette said. "I would want you to live no matter what you are to me, because you're my friend, and I don't want to smurf go of that."
"You will have to let go of me when the time comes, Smurfette, for it is the nature of all things to expire when it is their time to do so," Polaris said.
Smurfette held Polaris in her arms and then kissed him on the mouth. She broke down in tears as she didn't know what she was doing, but Polaris simply looked at her with eyes that seemed to appreciate the gesture regardless. He reached out and gently touched her face to comfort her, to let her know that he understood her grief and to hopefully communicate that things will be all right, however slim that hope may be.
Duncan was standing outside Tapper's Tavern when the Smurflings came along. "Hey, Duncan, what are you smurfing outside the tavern right now?" Nat asked.
"I'm here to make sure that Tapper isn't disturbed while he is busy praying over the situation with our friend Polaris, laddie," Duncan answered.
"You honestly think prayer is going to help keep Polaris from dying on us, Duncan?" Snappy asked.
"Well, why shouldn't it, Snap?" Slouchy said. "After all, Tapper's Almighty must be a pretty powerful God to be able to answer his prayers."
"If Tapper's Almighty was really a powerful God, He wouldn't have let Gargamel torture the Smurfs for so long before Empath smurfed home to help us smurf rid of him for good," Snappy said.
"I honestly don't know how the Almighty works in all situations," Slouchy said.
"Tapper's Almighty can save Polaris from dying now, can he?" Sassette asked Duncan.
"That's what I'm hoping for, my wee lassie," Duncan said. "There might be a medical miracle that none of us have considered, but whether that will come from a supernatural hand or not is something that I cannot answer."
"So you think this might be it for our friend Polaris?" Nat asked. "That it may finally be his time to smurf away and be with his Ancestors, as he always smurfs?"
"I'm not going to give up on Polaris yet, and neither should any of you," Duncan said. "Whatever answers Empath smurfs back from Psychelia, there might be something that will help us save Polaris."
Brainy and Clumsy stood together a good distance away from Papa Smurf's laboratory, trying to keep themselves from interfering with the village leader's research. Brainy was beginning to become impatient with all the waiting, as he was now pacing around back and forth.
"At this rate, it's going to take forever for Papa Smurf to find the answer for how to save Polaris, Clumsy," he finally said after a long silence.
"Does Polaris have forever to wait for a cure, Brainy?" Clumsy asked.
"No, Clumsy, and I'm seriously starting to doubt that we ever will find one," Brainy said. "Oh, why did we ever have to smurf Polaris to be a member of our village, and why couldn't we have known that this was going to happen a year from then?"
"Uh, maybe Polaris didn't feel comfortable smurfing us this because he didn't believe this was going to happen to him," Clumsy suggested.
"Well, that doesn't make me feel any better, Clumsy," Brainy said, sounding really irritated. "I know we're supposed to care about other beings because Papa Smurf said it's the smurfy thing for us to do, but to care about a being who only smurfs about a year to live seems like the worst thing for us to do."
"I don't care if Polaris only has a year to live...I still want him around as a friend, Brainy," Clumsy said.
Just then, Vanity, Jokey, and Grouchy came walking towards them. "I wonder how long it's going to take before Empath returns from Psychelia, my friends," Vanity said. "This whole matter is starting to smurf me worry lines."
"And Polaris doesn't smurf to be in the mood for a joke," Jokey said.
"I hate your jokes," Grouchy said.
"I honestly don't know how long Empath's meetings with this Psyche Master may take, but I'm very confident that he should be returning home within the hour with whatever news he might smurf us," Brainy answered.
"This Psyche Master sure smurfs me the creeps," Vanity said, shuddering at the thought. "I wouldn't want to smurf alone with him for even more than a second."
"Yeah, how can he stand to smurf over the Psyches all day and not let them have a moment to laugh at themselves?" Jokey asked.
"I hate laughing at myself," Grouchy said.
"I would like to smurf out the answers for myself, but the thing is, we're not Empath, and we're not Psyches, and we'll just have to smurf Empath's word for how he carries on with the people he's in charge of," Brainy said.
"Hey, look, up in the sky," Clumsy said as he saw something approaching.
The other four Smurfs also looked up and saw that it was Empath returning from Psychelia. He looked like his visit with the Psyche Master wasn't a pleasant one, to say the least.
"Well, Empath?" Brainy asked. "Did you receive any answers from the Psyche Master?"
"This smurf has received an answer, Brainy, but this smurf only feels comfortable to share this information with Papa Smurf, so you'll have to excuse this smurf for the time being," Empath replied before he headed for Papa Smurf's laboratory.
Brainy snorted. "I didn't expect that I would be smurfed the cold shoulder from my own brother when it comes to important village matters."
"Oh, don't be such a sorry sort, Brainy," Jokey said. "Most of us would have smurfed you the cold shoulder anyway."
Papa Smurf was still in the middle of reading through his books when he heard knocking on the door. "Papa Smurf, it's Empath," the voice on the other side of the door announced.
Papa Smurf opened the door and allowed Empath to enter, realizing that what he had to say was private information. "So what did you find out from the Psyche Master, Empath?" he asked.
"Sadly, this smurf found out that the only way Polaris could truly be cured of this degeneration is if he were to return to Psychelia and become part of the collective conscience again, Papa Smurf," Empath answered. "In the process, though, Polaris would have to give up everything that he knows about the Smurfs...and that includes everything he knows about this smurf."
"And that's not what you or Polaris or even any Smurf who knows him wants," Papa Smurf replied, realizing what that would entail. "But is there anything else the Psyche Master has smurfed you when you were alone with him?"
"The Psyche Master has revealed to this smurf the secret about the Psyches, that they are actually genetically-modified Smurfs created by the Psyche Master for his particular purposes, Papa Smurf," Empath said.
"Genetically-modified Smurfs?" Papa Smurf said, stroking his beard while pondering what he had heard. "Hmmm...now that smurfs me an idea on how he may be cured. It may not work, but it's the only thing that I can think of that might have a chance."
"You have an idea of how to cure Polaris?" Empath asked. "Then please tell this smurf what that possible cure is."
"It is a formula that I have created for my friends Selwyn and Tallulah years ago that I have called the Long Life Elixir, Empath," Papa Smurf said. "It is made from Smurf essence which can be found in the hair of a Smurf, and so far its effect on humans is to slow the natural aging process. It can also save those who are dying from spells that cause them to age very quickly, which is why I had to use it on the sorcerer couple years ago."
"But if we can create Smurf essence by using Smurf hair, why can't we just create some now by using clippings of your beard or even Smurfette's hair?" Empath asked.
"The process of creating Smurf essence smurfs time and patience, Empath, and it has to be with hair of a Smurf that's around the same age as the one who wishes to be cured, or else the essence itself would smurf unpredictable effects," Papa Smurf answered. "There are very few Smurfs who are of the same physical age as Polaris Psyche for Smurf essence to be made without any impurities or unwanted side effects."
"What about eyebrow hair, Papa Smurf?" Empath asked. "Is that enough to make it work?"
Papa Smurf stroked his beard in thought. "It would be enough to create a small enough sample to be smurfed into the Long Life Elixir, Empath, but I wouldn't ask you to..."
"You're not going to ask this smurf to do it, Papa Smurf, because this smurf has already volunteered," Empath said. "Do whatever you have to do with this smurf's eyebrow hair to make enough of that elixir so we can save Polaris."
Papa Smurf smiled. "Very well then, Empath."
It was a short while later when Empath returned to the infirmary to check up on Polaris. Somehow he looked a bit worse than he did before Empath had left the Smurf Village to visit the Psyche Master, as Polaris' face became rather gaunt and his hands became thin and bony, as if he was becoming a skeleton with sagging flesh. Apparently, at the rate Polaris was deteriorating, Empath sensed that his friend did not have much longer to live.
"Empath, this one sensed that you have news about how this one can be cured," Polaris said, sounding rather weak.
"There is a potential cure, but this one isn't sure if it's going to work, Polaris," Empath said. "Papa Smurf is going to create the Long Life Elixir. This will hopefully extend your life and restore your health."
"The Long Life Elixir," Polaris said, repeating it to himself as if pondering the very solution himself. "This one also senses that you have something else that will help in this situation, if the elixir alone does not work."
"You are correct, Polaris," Empath said. "This smurf will have the village join together in a mindlink after you have taken the elixir so that this smurf will have enough power to heal you completely. It will connect you to a new collective conscience -- us -- so that you will continue to live on, even if you're the only one still living."
"A new collective conscience," Polaris said, also pondering. "You mean this one will become one with the Smurfs."
"This smurf knows how uncomfortable you are having to live your life among those whom the Psyches would consider savages, but having to connect your mind to those whom you would consider savages is asking for a big leap of faith from you, Polaris," Empath said. "You do not have to do this if you want, but consider that most of the people in this village think of you as their friend. This smurf can sense that they would feel a great sense of loss if you would choose to end your life this very night."
Polaris nodded, understanding what Empath was saying. "Smurfette kissed this one while you were away, Empath, and this one feels ashamed to say that...that this one has found the experience rather pleasurable."
"This smurf understands how Smurfette must be feeling about possibly losing you, Polaris, and that she will miss you greatly," Empath said. "This smurf wouldn't blame her if that's how she chose to express how she felt about you at the moment. You should consider it a great honor that she would express her feelings for you in that manner."
"So you do not feel betrayed if she also kissed this one the same way that she kissed you?" Polaris asked.
"This smurf trusts Smurfette to know that she won't ever betray this smurf, Polaris," Empath answered. "But Smurfette was never on a chain to this smurf anyway as far as our relationship with each other."
"This one has given his trust over to a people that this one had once believed were savages and have proven themselves to be worthy allies, Empath," Polaris said. "This one is willing to extend that trust even further to allow your friends -- our friends -- to be able to save this one's life."
Empath smiled. "It won't be your time to join the Ancestors yet, Polaris. This smurf thinks that they would want you to live a long fuller life."
It was a long wait for both Empath and Polaris as Papa Smurf made the Long Life Elixir in his laboratory. Meanwhile, most of the Smurfs spent their time with Polaris, sharing with him what they truly felt about him, even if it was the most uncomfortable thing they could ever confess before him, some of them trying to make him feel like he would be sorely missed if he had passed away. Polaris seemed grateful that his fellow Smurfs would want to spend time with him on what may be the last day of his life, though he understood that some like Hefty felt too uneasy about Polaris to want to express anything but disapproval.
Tapper came in at one point carrying a vial of special oil with him. "Would you mind if I anointed you with oil so that you may smurf a healing, my friend?" he asked.
"You may perform what you feel is necessary, if you believe that it will help this one recover," Polaris replied.
Duncan stood beside Empath and watched as Tapper dabbed a bit of the oil onto his thumb and pressed it against Polaris' forehead where his star mark appeared. Then he grasped Polaris' hand as he bowed his head and prayed. "O Lord God, the Heavenly Father, the Creator of all good things of heaven and earth, I pray for complete healing for my friend Polaris Psyche, that You are capable of smurfing what we alone cannot smurf, that his life belongs to You and You alone will determine how long he will smurf this life. We are just mere vapors in this brief existence while You are eternal, so we beg You to extend our friend's life to the years You have appointed for him, that we may smurf You all glory and honor due unto You. We humbly ask this in the name of Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Amen."
"Amen," Empath and Duncan said together as they also bowed their heads.
Tapper held Polaris' hand firmly in his as he started straight into Polaris' eyes. "I am not going to rest until you are smurfed complete healing in your whole being, I promise you," he boldly stated.
"This one appreciates your efforts," Polaris said with some honest feeling.
When evening had finally come, Papa Smurf had entered the infirmary with a vial of blue liquid in his hand. "Here it is, Polaris...the Long Life Elixir," he announced as he handed the vial to Empath, who was standing next to Polaris by his bedside.
"This one...is grateful...for your efforts...Papa Smurf," Polaris managed to say, sounding like he was near death.
"Let this smurf help you drink that, Polaris," Empath offered. He opened Polaris' mouth and carefully poured the elixir into it, helping him swallow until it was fully digested.
Papa Smurf watched to see if there was any sign of the elixir doing its work to restore Polaris, but so far it seemed as if it was doing nothing. He knew that now it was going to require a greater power than his own magic to accomplish the impossible. "It is now time for you to smurf our minds together, Empath," Papa Smurf said.
"Then let us join together as one mind, as one community," Empath said. And in that instant, every Smurf could hear Empath speaking into their minds, and every Smurf could hear every Smurf's thoughts, realizing that they were now part of the mindlink together. We are now one mind, one thought, one community together, their minds spoke in unison.
And as their minds were joined together, Empath could feel his own power increasing. It was now coursing through his hands, as if he was granted the power over life and death himself.
Empath then touched Polaris' body with both his hands. Polaris' body glowed as the combined power of the Smurfs' minds through the mindlink was poured into him, an effect which lasted for about less than a minute, and then it faded.
Empath could sense the change that was happening in Polaris' body. "It's working, Papa Smurf," he said as soon as he had broken the mindlink. "The Long Life Elixir is beginning to change his body, to give him new life as well as new vigor and strength."
Papa Smurf smiled. "You did it, Empath. You saved him."
"No, Papa Smurf, we did it," Empath said. "We saved Polaris." He continued to look at Polaris and saw that the elixir was continuing to do its work in him. "This smurf is going to stay beside Polaris through the night, to make sure that he fully recovers."
Papa Smurf nodded with understanding. "I will return in the morning to see how he's smurfing, Empath," he said before he left his son alone in the infirmary with Polaris.
Empath held Polaris' hand. "Tomorrow you will be a new self, I promise you," he said quietly to his friend, smiling.