Part 5

NOTE: Empath's arrival on King Solomon's palanquin is based on Song Of Solomon 3:6-11.

At the end of the day, Smurfette retired to her character's bedroom. She never thought that a day of playing along in the role she was given would make her feel tired. However, before she could go to sleep, Salome's sister Eden came in.
"Shouldn't you be asleep along with your brothers, little sister?" Smurfette asked.
"Who can sleep when I'm too busy smurfing of who you're going to marry," Eden said, sounding excited. "So did you smurf your beloved today? And what was he like?"
"Yes, I have smurfed him when I was smurfing the flocks out into the fields today," Smurfette answered. "His head is like the finest gold. His eyes are like doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and set in a frame. His cheeks are like a bed of spices, like grown herbs. His lips are like lilies, dripping flowing myrrh."
"Really that handsome?" Eden said, sounding curious.
Smurfette nodded. "His hands are like folds of gold filled with precious stones. His torso is smooth as ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are like pillars of marble set on bases of fine gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet. Yes, he is altogether lovely."
"Oooh, you've got to smurf me this beloved of yours when you have the chance," Eden said, sounding all excited.
"If only I knew where he lives," Smurfette said. "All I know is that my beloved has gone to his garden, to the beds of spices, to graze in the gardens, and to gather lilies."
"He's got a garden?" Eden asked. "Sounds like someplace I would want to smurf in. Can you smurf me with you when you smurf your beloved? I'd like to help you find him."
Smurfette looked at Eden in the same way that she looked at Sassette whenever there was something private they wanted to share with each other. "I'll see what I can smurf, sister, which is all I can promise you. In the meantime, you should smurf off to bed before Papa finds out you're not in it."
"Have smurfy dreams of your beloved, big sister," Eden said as she gave Smurfette a hug before she left the bedroom.
And afterward, Smurfette blew out the candle and fell asleep on her bed, wondering where she was going to see her beloved next. Before long, though, she heard a voice calling out her actual name, which sounded like the voice of her beloved calling out to her.
She opened her eyes and saw that her bedroom was replaced by a banqueting table filled with all sorts of delicacies, and sitting there at the head of the table was her beloved, dressed in kingly robes.
"Come, enjoy yourself and relax," he spoke to her. "There is nothing for you to fear."
"But who are you?" Smurfette asked. "Are you King Solomon?"
"I am the lover of your soul, and I have been calling you to me," her beloved said.
"But why? Who am I that you should be calling out to me?" Smurfette asked.
"You are the Shulamite, a beautiful woman in whom there is no defect," her beloved said.
"But I don't feel so perfect," Smurfette said. "I feel so dark and shameful of myself, like I don't belong in your presence."
"You do not need to feel that, my dear," her beloved said. "Come and dine with me, because I want to make you feel loved in a way that you have never been loved before."
"But what about Empath?" Smurfette asked.
"I will not take you away from him," her beloved said. "He is also looking for you, but there is something else he is looking for that you alone cannot give him."
"What is it, my beloved?" Smurfette said. "What is that one thing that I cannot smurf him?"
"It is something that I can reveal to him alone, my child," her beloved said. "That is all you need to know, so don't worry about him. Come and enjoy yourself before the day breaks."
"Oh, sustain me with raisin cakes, refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick," Smurfette responded.
"Come to me and drink," her beloved said, as he handed her a goblet of wine which she drank from. It was not like any sort of wine, even made by Vino Smurf, that she ever tasted. It was almost heavenly.
And the next thing Smurfette knew, she was back in her bed in the Imaginarium story setting that was still being played out, and it was now morning. "My beloved? Where are you?" she asked as she arose from her bed and looked around to find nobody there.
"Salome! Who is it that you're calling for?" the voice of the character's father called from outside the room.
"Uh...nobody, Papa," Smurfette said. She got dressed and joined her family at the breakfast table.

While this was going on, Empath had fallen asleep during his journey toward the village of the Shulamites. It was in his sleep that he also found himself in the same place that Smurfette was, only he was there by himself. "Empath," the person at the head of the table gently spoke.
"Who are you?" Empath asked. "What have you done to Smurfette?"
"I am the lover of your soul, Empath," the person said. "You are here because you are wondering why Smurfette has been drawn to the one who has been calling her."
"What do you intend to do with Smurfette?" Empath asked.
"There are things she desires that she cannot receive from you," the person answered. "Just as there are things you desire that you cannot receive from her."
"You speak as if you know what this smurf is looking for," Empath said.
"Your soul has been troubled, my child," the person said. "You live in the shadow of a past that you had no control over, being in a place that has caused you great turmoil even as it has educated you. You long for things that your fellow Smurfs had which was denied to you, and it has made you feel hurt and jealous of them."
"You are correct," Empath said. "There isn't a day that goes by that this smurf doesn't think about how much this smurf wants to turn back time and get back what this smurf had lost."
"But what you have in here is only an illusion," the person said. "You can only recreate things that you have lost, but you cannot reclaim them, nor bring all things back to what you want them to be."
"But what is it that you're offering this smurf that Smurfette herself cannot give this smurf?" Empath asked.
"Peace," the person said. "A peace that surpasses all understanding, a treasure greater than all the gold in King Solomon's court, greater than all the pleasures of the earth."
Empath wondered what this mysterious person was talking about. Peace? Could this be the peace of the Almighty that Tapper himself feels? "Is there anything you desire this smurf to do?" Empath asked.
"Look for Smurfette," the person said. "She will tell you about what she has found. For now, come sit with me and enjoy yourself."
Empath sat at the banqueting table and took the first piece of fruit from one of the trays. The taste of the fruit was beyond anything he had ever experienced coming from Farmer's garden or even from the Smurf Forest itself.
And as he ate of the fruit, Empath heard the voice of one of the strong Smurfs carrying his palanquin, "We will be entering the village shortly, your Highness."
Empath woke up and saw that he had fallen asleep...and yet the dream he was in seemed more like it was part of the Imaginarium fantasy setting, like it had physical reality. He hoped that he would find Smurfette and discover if that person who was in his dream was truly the "beloved" she was looking for.

Throughout the day, despite her Salome's father's warnings, Smurfette had gone about asking the villagers if they had seen "the one whom her soul loves", but most of them looked at her rather confused, as if they didn't know who or what she is talking about. Some of the young male Smurfs her age tried to humor her by saying that they themselves are the one she was looking for, but Smurfette didn't find it all that funny and just dismissed them.
"This feels so ridiculous," Smurfette said to herself. "I might as well be looking for Empath in this scenario than smurfing after this beloved that I can only smurf in my dreams or..."
"Behold, you are beautiful, my love! Behold, you are beautiful! You have dove's eyes behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats lying down at Mount Gilead," the voice said.
Smurfette turned and saw that it was her beloved, standing in the shadows, looking at her and smiling. "Oh, please, don't disappear from me," she cried out as she raced to meet him and embrace him.
"Your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep which have come up from the washing, every one of which bears twins, and none is barren among them," her beloved said "Your lips are like a strand of scarlet, and your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like a piece of pomegranate."
Smurfette felt her heart leap for joy. "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, that you do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases," she said to herself.
Then suddenly she heard the sound of a shofar being blown. "Behold, the King of Israel is arriving in our village," someone cried out.
Smurfette was curious to find out who it was that was entering the village. "Please don't smurf away...I'll be right back," she said to her beloved as she headed for the main concourse of the village, where the villagers had gathered.
She could barely see through the crowd, but she could smell fragrant perfumes as the king's palanquin was drawing closer. And soon everyone in the village was cheering and praising as the king passed through.
Finally Smurfette broke through the crowd and saw that it was King Solomon on the palanquin...or rather, it was someone very familiar to her playing King Solomon. "Empath?" she asked.
Empath saw someone emerge from the crowd that had gathered around him and recognized who it was. "Smurfette?"
"Empath, what are you doing, playing as the king?" Smurfette asked, trying to make herself heard above the crowd and also trying to get closer, only to be blocked by the warrior Smurfs who were surrounding the palanquin.
"No one is allowed to get close to the king without his permission," one of the warrior Smurfs said.
Smurfette felt frustrated. She didn't want to start a fight, but she had to think of some way to get Empath's attention so they could be alone and find out why he was looking for her. "Please...I know the king personally...you have to let me..."
Suddenly one of the warrior Smurfs pushed her back roughly, causing her to fall to the ground.
Empath saw what had happened. "Great Ancestors! What have you done that for?" he asked the warrior Smurf very sternly.
"We must protect you from those who are smurfing audiences with you without your permission," the warrior Smurf said.
"Allow her to come closer, then," Empath said. "This smurf is giving royal permission to her so that she may have an audience."
"It would not be advisable for you to seek audiences with such a crowd in public, your Lordship," one of the strong Smurfs said.
"Yeah, let us smurf you to one of the lodges that you own in this area," another strong Smurf said. "There you can smurf your audiences in an orderly fashion."
Empath felt frustrated that his assigned servants wouldn't stop just to allow him to talk to Smurfette. He had a feeling that Tapper had made the characters respond in a way that would prevent him or Smurfette from taking any short cuts through the fantasy setting. The only way he could ever hope to talk to Smurfette alone was to play through the scenario as it was designed.
He sighed as he just sat back and allowed his palanquin to be carried through the streets and past the crowd that was showering him with praise.

Meanwhile, back where the palanquin had just passed by, Eden and her brothers had found Smurfette as she was picking herself up from the ground. "Holy hickory nuts, where have you been?" Asher asked.
Smurfette groaned, finding herself feeling hurt but having no injuries. "I was just out here smurfing for my beloved again," she answered.
"Well, we better get smurfing home soon, because Papa's going to be smurfing mad if he doesn't know where you've been all this time," Akan said.
"It's too bad we missed the King of Israel smurfing through our town," Adna said.
"Yeah, we really miss the smurfy stuff happening that all the grown-ups get to smurf in our village," Eden said.
"You're still too young to meet the King of Israel, Eden," Akan said.
"That doesn't mean I can't smurf about him like Salome does," Eden said. "Just smurf at the bed that he smurfs upon, and smurf at his clothes. What I wouldn't give to be smurfing in his palace as his queen."
Smurfette followed Salome's siblings as they headed back toward their house. On her way there, she looked at the place where she met her beloved and saw that he was no longer there.