Part 3

"Oh, that's terrible," Smurfette moaned. "I can't believe that you were left smurfing down in a hole without any way to smurf back up."
"This smurf was unconscious at the time, Smurfette, and besides this smurf had not yet mastered the power to telekinesis to fly myself out of that hole," Empath said. "So naturally, when they did not know what to do, the three Smurfs headed back to the village and called for Papa Smurf."
And as Empath's story continued, Smurfette saw in her mind Papa Smurf in his laboratory doing some things when he heard somebody knocking on his door. He went to open and found that it was Hefty, Duncan, and Timber.
"What's the matter, my little Smurfs?" Papa Smurf asked.
"It's Empath, Papa," Duncan answered. "He was with us when we were smurfing down our Winter Solstice tree in the forest and he smurfed down into a hole and we can't seem to smurf a response from him."
"I have a feeling that Empath is in danger and in need of rescue," Timber said.
"Great Smurfness!" Paps Smurf exclaimed. "I will have Miner join you and we will smurf out into the forest together to see if we can find where he is."
And soon Smurfette saw that Miner joined the four Smurfs out in the forest where they found the hole that Empath has fallen into. Miner carefully lowered himself down on a rope, armed with his trusty miner's cap to shine his way into the deep darkness in order to find where Empath may have landed.
The four Smurfs waited patiently and eagerly at the top of the hole, hoping to hear anything. Then they heard, "Aye, I've smurfed the bottom of this shaft, Papa Smurf."
"And what have you found?" Papa Smurf called back.
"Nothing there, Papa Smurf," Miner answered. "Empath's body is gone. If he landed here, he must have awakened and tried to smurf a way out."
"That must mean the laddie is still alive, but where would he be now?" Duncan asked.
"Your guess is as good as mine, Gutsy," Hefty said.
"Then we'll have to smurf the entire forest to find out where Empath could have gone, if he has escaped from this hole," Papa Smurf said. "Miner, smurf back up right now."
"Coming, Papa Smurf," Miner said. The four of them waited until Miner had reached the surface, feeling like the search was all for nothing.
"This isn't exactly the Winter Solstice that I was expecting, to have one Smurf among us be lost in the forest," Timber said.
"It's not that we've lost anybody really important, Timber," Hefty said. "After all, it's just the star-face from Psychelia."
"I say that Empath is important to us, laddie!" Duncan said, sounding irritated with Hefty's dismissive attitude. "This is his first Winter Solstice with us, and I think he desmurfs better than being lost from us on it."
"Let's not argue about this, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said. "As soon as we smurf this tree back to the village, we will start smurfing out a rescue party that will smurf the forest for any sign of Empath. With any luck, we may be able to find him soon."
"Yes, Papa Smurf," the other four Smurfs said together.

"In the meantime, this smurf found myself waking up in a strange location, being cared for by the strangest of Smurfs that this smurf had ever seen at that point in my life," Empath said.
And as Empath's story continued, Smurfette saw that Empath was lying on the ground on top of some soft moss, feeling as if he had been asleep for days. His head hurt so badly that he was afraid to lift it up. He slowly opened his eyes and saw where he now was. It looked like it was inside a hole in a tree, with the only light coming in through the hole. Wherever he was now, he only wished that he could let the other Smurfs know that he was safe.
And then he saw a mysterious figure coming toward him, crawling around on all fours, looking after Empath as if he were an invalid. As the figure came closer, Empath saw that it was a Smurf, and not only that, but he was also naked except for a bush of leaves that he was wearing around his waist.
Empath became fearful at the sight of this Smurf. "No...please...don't smurf any closer...I don't want to be touched!" he cried out, finding himself unable to move anywhere.
The naked Smurf looked at Empath strangely, as if wondering what he was doing to make the one he was caring for frightened.
"PLEASE GO AWAY!" Empath shouted very loudly. The naked Smurf retreated from Empath when he heard him shout, fearful of what may happen.
Empath couldn't help feeling the fear he was having right now. All his life up to that point in Psychelia, he was told to beware of savage creatures that like to parade their flesh around and do unspeakable things for their own perverse pleasure. And now he was at the mercy of one whom he did not know very well about what his true intentions were with Empath.
It was at that moment that Empath felt trapped and helpless, uncertain of what to do.

Back in the Smurf Village, Papa Smurf summoned the Smurfs together to inform them of the news. "My little Smurfs, today one of our little Smurfs is missing out in the forest, and that Smurf happens to be Empath."
"EMPATH IS MISSING?!?" the Smurfs exclaimed together.
"I hate Empath being missing," Grouchy said.
"There is nothing for us to worry about yet, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said. "Since we are still in the early part of winter, we may still find Empath before the end of the day. That is why I'm going to smurf out a few search parties as well as Tracker to smurf through the entire forest."
"But Papa Smurf, what if we don't find Empath?" one of the Smurfs asked.
"I don't want anyone of you to think that we won't be able to find Empath," Papa Smurf said. "Let's try to think positive even in a season like this. If Empath is somewhere in the forest, it would only be a matter of time before we will find him no matter where he may be."
"But what about the Solstice tree that we smurfed down in the forest, Papa Smurf?" another Smurf asked.
"I will smurf out a team of Smurfs to bring the tree straight to the village," Papa Smurf said. "Whatever happens, we won't smurf our Winter Solstice without Empath being here for it. That is all."
"YES, PAPA SMURF!!!" all the Smurfs said together.
Soon afterward, he sent off Tracker and a few other Smurfs on a crane to fly around the forest to see if they could find any trace of Empath. He also sent off a few search parties to see if they could find any trace of him on the ground. He had hopes that they would find Empath soon, but given how the weather was slowly getting worse, it would seem that Papa Smurf's hopes of finding Empath would also diminish over time.
By the end of the day, as the Smurfs came back home to get out of the cold and to rest, they made their report to Papa Smurf: "We have found nothing out there, Papa Smurf. We have searched everywhere we possibly can, and he is most likely someplace where he can't be found."
Papa Smurf sighed. "All right, my little Smurfs, I think it's time we should smurf ourselves a rest until the following day. If we can't find where Empath is now, we'll have to assume that he has smurfed shelter from the cold for the night and will try to smurf his way back home by tomorrow at the very least."
As the Smurfs headed for their sleeping quarters, Brainy and Clumsy were walking with each other, lost in thought. "Gee, I never thought we would have to smurf our days smurfing out for a lost Smurf instead of smurfing ready for the Winter Solstice," Clumsy said.
"This isn't exactly how I was imagining smurfing the rest of this month myself, Clumsy," Brainy said. "I mean, how are we supposed to enjoy a holiday celebration like this if we're so preoccupied with one of us being missing?"
"I honestly don't know, Brainy," Clumsy said. "I only wish I knew everything like Papa Smurf does."
"Even Papa Smurf doesn't know what to smurf, and that makes me wonder how much trust I should even smurf in him to have all the answers to a situation like this, in the likelihood that Papa Smurf will someday make me the village leader," Brainy said.
"You want to be a village leader someday, Brainy?" Clumsy asked.
"Of course I do, Clumsy," Brainy said. "Why else would I be so gifted with intelligence and wisdom if it is not for the purpose that I may have to lead the other Smurfs on the day when Papa Smurf is gone forever?"
"Well, if you want to be the leader of the village, I'm ready to support you on that," Clumsy said.
Brainy rolled his eyes at that thought. "Well, that's certainly a sweeping endorsement if I ever heard of one!"
Meanwhile, Tapper and Duncan were both walking and talking with each other. "Great Smurfiny Crickets, I wouldn't think we would lose Empath at such a time of the year as this," Tapper said.
"I'm not ready to smurf up on him yet, laddie," Duncan said. "Somewhere out in the forest he's smurfing himself to safety so he can be found."
"I can certainly hope and pray that he is," Tapper said. "I wouldn't want to think he would be smurfed from our presence forever."
"Isn't your Almighty capable of anything, including knowing where the young pup is?" Duncan asked.
"I believe so, Duncan," Tapper said. "If He alone is able to sustain us all these years we have been smurfing together, He is certain to smurf the same to our wayward Smurf in the forest."
"So why not smurf Him a prayer and see if He can smurf us some answers?" Duncan asked. "It wouldn't hurt if you at least tried."
"I will bring this matter before Him in prayer tonight before I smurf to sleep," Tapper said. "It's the least thing that I can smurf before we smurf out of options of what to do."

Empath continued to lay there in wherever he was in the forest, watching as the lights grew dim and everything became dark. He still couldn't move himself around, feeling that whatever had injured him had paralyzed him to a certain extent. He didn't know if the injury was permanent or not, which made his situation feel even more distressing.
With some mental effort, Empath tried to make his bodysuit glow with the circuit lines that were present whenever he was in Psychelia. The room was soon aglow in the faint light from the bodysuit, which made Empath see where he was a little better. He could see that he was most likely inside a tree, and that it was the residence of the naked Smurf that had found him.
Speaking of the naked Smurf, he was still there with Empath, still watching over him, although now he was a bit frightened by the strange glow that was coming from Empath's bodysuit. He was afraid to approach Empath now because of this.
"Whoever you are that rescued this smurf, don't be afraid...this smurf will not hurt you...not that this smurf could move anyway," Empath spoke. "Come closer so that this smurf can see you."
The naked Smurf cautiously came closer. Empath could see that he looked like an ordinary Smurf, although naked and wearing a bush of leaves for clothing.
"Can you speak? Empath asked. "Are you able to speak?"
The naked Smurf opened his mouth, but all that came out of him were strange noises that sounded like squirrel chatter.
"Never mind," Empath said. "You must have been living out in the forest too long to have developed any sort of skill for language."
Then the light from Empath's bodysuit began to dim, and the naked Smurf began to disappear into the darkness until the light was no more and the naked Smurf was nothing more than a silhouette.
Empath sighed. He felt that whatever has happened to him, only the naked Smurf can do anything for him now in his condition, and that he was going to have to trust in this stranger to take care of him.

Back in the Smurf Village, Tapper was at the window of his sleeping quarters, kneeling down to pray.
"O Lord God Almighty, the Heavenly Father, the Maker of all that is seen and unseen, I pray right now for my fellow brother Empath," Tapper spoke. "Nobody in the village knows where he is right now, but You know, for Your eyes smurf through the entire world, and nothing is hidden from You. Help Your servant pray for his survival right now, wherever he is, that You will sustain him and heal him of whatever injuries he may have smurfed. Smurf him safe under the shadow of Your wings and forgive him of all his sins, that he may someday glorify You with all that he smurfs. You alone know how long each of us has to smurf upon this world, so I pray that we will not give up the search for Empath until the time smurfs when You say we should give it up. Please continue to bless and guide Papa Smurf as he leads us day by day by his wisdom. I ask all of this and give thanks in the name of Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Amen."
And with that, Tapper headed to his bed and fell fast asleep.