Meanwhile, the Smurfs back in the village were busy making preparations for the Solstice tree decoration when they saw the Empath, Hefty, Duncan, and Timber returning. "Gosh, Empath, you returned," Clumsy said.
"And that's not all they returned with, Clumsy," Brainy said, noting the giant stranger who was with him.
Clumsy saw the giant for himself and became fearful. "Oh my goodness, it's a giant!"
"We should go and tell Papa Smurf!" Brainy said as the two of them ran off together.
The other Smurfs looked fearful as the four Smurfs came into the center of the village with Nicholas following them. "Why are all the Smurfs so fearful of me?" Nicholas asked.
"That's because they never had seen a giant like you enter their village before, Nicholas," Empath answered.
"I wouldn't blame them, though," Hefty said. "Just smurfs to show how cautious we all really are to your kind."
"Hey, I don't see the laddie trying to smurf us yet, laddie, so you smurf your tongue around him," Duncan said.
"Whatever the case, we should still smurf for him," Timber said.
Papa Smurf came out of his laboratory to see what his little Smurfs were acting so panicky about. And then he saw the four Smurfs with Nicholas. "Great Smurfness! What's with smurfing this giant into our village?" he asked.
"The boy's name is Nicholas, and we found him lost in our forest, and he needs help in finding his way back to where he came from, Papa Smurf," Empath explained.
"The laddie's smurfing the truth, Papa," Duncan said.
"Please, Papa Smurf, if you could help me, I would be very grateful," Nicholas said with some honesty.
"Hmmmm," Papa Smurf said, stroking his beard while trying to think. The Smurfs and Nicholas patiently waited for his answer. Then he said, "We will smurf what we can for the young boy, my little Smurfs, but we will still make sure that he doesn't smurf anything to harm us while he's here."
"But Papa Smurf, what if he smurfs back here once he leaves the forest?" Brainy asked.
"Uh, yeah, Papa Smurf, he just might smurf that," Clumsy said.
"There's nothing for us to worry about, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said. "No giant who has ever smurfed into our village has ever smurfed his way back here once he left. So I'm sure that once we smurf Nicholas safely back where he belongs, he will not remember how he smurfed here in the first place. Is that understood?"
"YES, PAPA SMURF!!!" all the Smurfs answered.
"That boy smurfs like he could smurf something to eat, Papa Smurf," Greedy said.
"I'll let you and your kitchen crew smurf up the food for him to eat, Greedy," Papa Smurf said. "For now, let's get a team of Smurfs to smurf our Solstice tree back to the village where we can get it smurfed up and ready to decorate."
"YES, PAPA SMURF!!!" all the Smurfs answered.
"We apologize for having to bring this giant into our village, Papa Smurf, but we couldn't just let the boy stay in the forest and freeze to death, being cold and hungry," Empath said.
"You smurfed the right thing, Empath," Papa Smurf said. "Nevertheless, we should still be careful of who we invite into our village for any purpose, because we do not know their ultimate intentions with us."
"This smurf understands and acknowledges, Papa Smurf," Empath said.
And as the boy stayed with the Smurfs, Nicholas saw them bring the Solstice tree into the center of the village, set it up, and decorate it with all kinds of ornaments that they have made for the occasion.
"This reminds me of my Dad going out into the forest around this time of year to bring home a tree that we use to decorate for Christmas," Nicholas said to Empath.
"This one is curious to know what this Christmas is that you celebrate, fellow Nicholas," Empath said.
"Well, Christmas is when we celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as a young baby in the stable, which is what the village pastor always preaches," Nicholas said.
"So you humans celebrate this Christmas in the same way that we Smurfs celebrate the Winter Solstice," Empath said.
"I think so," Nicholas said. "We used to celebrate Winter Solstice until the pastor came to town and preached the good news of Jesus."
"But why would they celebrate this Jesus' birth at this time of year?" Empath asked.
"I don't know," Nicholas said. "I asked the pastor, and he said that it's around this time of year that He was born in Bethlehem. I'm not sure if I fully believe it, though. It doesn't change how I feel about this time of year."
"One of our fellow Smurfs believes that we should put our faith in this Jesus that he preaches about," Empath said. "Not many Smurfs are willing to do that, as they prefer believing in Mother Nature and Father Time."
"You believe that they are the ones who created the universe?" Nicholas asked.
"Papa Smurf and most of the Smurfs here believe that they are the creators," Empath answered. "It's something this smurf is still struggling with as far as putting this smurf's faith into."
"My father believes that I have a destiny as a toymaker," Nicholas said. "I'm pretty good with assembling things together, and I want to do something that will make the boys and girls in my village be happy around this time of year."
"This smurf can sense that about you," Empath said. "But this smurf can't tell what the future will hold for you, since this smurf can't see into the future with this smurf's abilities."
"Well, I like the bright red color suit that your Papa Smurf wears," Nicholas said. "It looks rather...festive."
"Papa Smurf only wears the suit because that's what his station is in this life, as the leader of the Smurf Village, as far as this smurf knows," Empath said.
"Still, I would like to wear a suit just like this for the holiday season," Nicholas said. "It would make me look cheery when I go out to deliver the toys to the boys and girls of the village."
"Let's focus on helping you find your way back to the village you came from, Nicholas," Empath said. "We'll protect you the best that we know how to."
Meanwhile, Tapper and Duncan were both observing the boy from a distance, with Duncan noticing Tapper acting as if he was seeing something wrong with the boy. "Michty me, laddie, what smurfs to be wrong with you?" Duncan asked.
"Something in my spirit tells me that bringing this boy here was a serious mistake that we're going to regret, Duncan," Tapper answered.
"I don't smurf anything smurfing on with the boy that we should be wary of," Duncan said.
"It isn't him personally, but rather an evil spirit that's attracted to him for some unknown purpose," Tapper said.
"An evil spirit is after him? Now I'm curious to know what's smurfing on here," Duncan said, sounding dumbfounded.
"It's if the boy is destined for some purpose that time has yet to reveal, and this evil spirit doesn't want him to fulfill it, Duncan," Tapper said.
"But how are we going to tell this to Papa Smurf?" Duncan asked.
"I don't know, but we've got to protect the boy as well as the other Smurfs from this evil spirit that's after him," Tapper said.
"Well, you've smurfed yourself a companion to help you there, laddie," Duncan said. "And I'm sure Empath would want to help as well."
"That's got to be his decision if he wants to help, Duncan," Tapper said. "But the sooner we can smurf the boy to safety, the better."
Greedy and the kitchen crew cooked up a kettle of soup for Nicholas to eat. They brought it out to him, telling him that he should let it cool down for a bit before handling the pot. Nicholas seemed grateful that the Smurfs thought of preparing something for him to eat.
Empath stood with Papa Smurf as they both watched the child eat heartily. "This smurf wishes to know what it's like to be in their village someday, Papa Smurf," Empath said.
"It's not a safe place for Smurfs, Empath," Papa Smurf said. "These humans live in a way that's not the same as how Smurfs live. It would be best for us to not smurf much contact with these humans as long as we live."
"But what if more of these humans come into our forest, Papa Smurf?" Empath asked.
"Whatever these humans want, we will not let them smurf their way into our village, Empath," Papa Smurf said.
"Besides, who knows what kind of trouble we would smurf into our village if we should others like this boy into here?" Brainy said as he and Clumsy joined Empath and Papa Smurf.
"Uh, what makes you smurf that, Brainy?" Clumsy asked.
"It's just something that an aspiring future leader of the Smurf Village smurfs into account when assessing potential dangers to all Smurfdom, Clumsy," Brainy said. "This boy may not be dangerous, but that doesn't mean that there won't be others who may be."
"Gosh, you really think that there are others out there beyond the forest?" Clumsy asked.
"That's just my educated opinion on the subject, Clumsy, not that I expect you to fully grasp what I am smurfing about," Brainy said.
Then suddenly Empath saw something in his mind that made his eyes flash wide open with astonishment. "Great Ancestors!" he exclaimed.
"What is it, Empath?" Papa Smurf asked.
"It's the boy, Papa Smurf," Empath said. "Somebody in the forest is tracking after it...and it's not the boy's parents. It's someone much more sinister."
"See, what did I tell you?" Brainy said in his self-important tone. "I knew that this child would smurf nothing but trouble to this village!"
"Smurf it, Brainy!" Papa Smurf snapped. "Empath, if what you're smurfing about Nicholas is right, then we need to protect him and ourselves."
Just then, Tapper and Duncan had approached Papa Smurf. "Papa Smurf, Tapper has just smurfed to me that he sensed in his spirit that there's an evil spirit smurfing after the boy," Duncan said.
"Then that leaves me no choice," Papa Smurf said. "Empath, you should have Tapper and Duncan accompany you as you smurf Nicholas out of the forest as soon as possible. We don't want to endanger ourselves by letting this evil spirit smurf his way here to find the boy."
"Aye, we'll help smurf the boy home, I promise, Papa Smurf," Duncan said.
"May the Almighty guide us on our travels as we smurf our way to the edge of this forest," Tapper said.
"Hopefully we will make it before whoever is after the boy finds us and him, Tapper," Empath said.