Part 1

Polaris Psyche's personal journal entry.
We are coming near the end of winter, and just as the mood of the Smurfs is turning hopeful for better days, we have almost suffered a loss in that Empath, in his usual act of bravery, had taken the full brunt of a magical explosion that had erupted in our village recently during one of Papa Smurf's experiments that had gone awry. Though surprisingly nothing in the laboratory was damaged in the explosion, this made most of the village concerned over what had happened to Empath and what effects the explosion will have on Empath. This one has stayed by Empath's bedside during the time of his recovery in the hopes that he will recover from this unfortunate happenstance and will guide him into full restoration of his health and abilities.

It is another snowy day in the Smurf Village, as Smurfette went to the village infirmary to check up on Empath in his current condition. She could feel the chilly icy wind blowing on her exposed skin, making her feel as if the winter was never going to end and that there was going to be nothing to look forward to but endless days of snow and cold, despite Tracker telling her that warm weather is going to come within the next few weeks.
Smurfette was so concerned with her thoughts about Empath and the winter that she didn't see the small patch of ice that her foot stepped on until she felt herself slipping and falling on her back.
Tapper saw Smurfette fall on her back just as he was passing by. "Oh, let me smurf you back on your feet, my dear," Tapper said as he reached out and gently raised her back on her feet again.
"Thanks, Tapper," Smurfette said, sounding a bit relieved.
"I was smurfing from the infirmary to check up on Empath's condition, to see if he was yet conscious enough, and so far there hasn't yet been a stir," Tapper reported. "I have been praying for him ever since he had been smurfed out by the explosion, but it feels like a spiritual battle between heaven and hell smurfing on with him."
Smurfette sighed. "I was hoping that this would be the day that he would recover, Tapper. You think my going to visit him now would be a waste of time?"
"Not at all, my dear Smurfette," Tapper said. "In fact, I feel in my spirit that your presence is what smurfs Empath back to the living. He knows how much you care for him and that you are the very reason that he would want to live."
"Well, he is very special to me, just like all of you are, Tapper," Smurfette said. "But on these cold nights, I could only wish that he alone was there with me to help smurf me warm."
Tapper chuckled slightly. "These nights certainly make all of us wish that we could smurf a bit of intimate companionship with you, if I do be bold enough to smurf my thoughts with you, my dear. But I am always aware of the need to keep ourselves pure in body, soul, and spirit even in desperate times when the weather isn't so comfortable for us to smurf alone."
"Oh, how much I want this winter to end," Smurfette said as she shivered. "I don't even know how long I'm going to last smurfing in my house all the time, having to smurf out only to have meals with my friends and to smurf some important errands."
"I understand the feeling of cabin fever we're all smurfing through, Smurfette," Tapper said. "But as long as we have friends smurfing out for each other during these smurfing times, I'm sure that we're all going to smurf through. I could only wish at times that I could smurf through the winter like Lazy does, not smurfing out of bed until the end of winter."
"Well, I'm going to smurf on my way to the infirmary now," Smurfette said. "Thank you by smurfing by to tell me how Empath's smurfing."
"Smurf care of yourself, my dear, and remember that I'm always praying for you," Tapper said, smiling before he and Smurfette went their own ways.
At the infirmary, Brainy and Clumsy were already there paying Empath a visit with Polaris Psyche sitting by his bedside. "Uh, hi, Smurfette," Clumsy said, trying to be polite.
"Hello, Clumsy," Smurfette greeted back. "I wasn't expecting you or Brainy being here at this time visiting Empath."
"Well, I just want to make sure my half-brother is smurfing well from that magical explosion that nearly smurfed his life, Smurfette," Brainy said. "That, and because I was getting so bored smurfing around in my house with nothing but my old books to smurf through during this long period of winter."
"This winter has sure been a chilly one, Smurfette," Clumsy said. "I'm not even sure of when we're ever going to smurf a warm day in the village."
"I know how you feel, Clumsy," Smurfette said. "I wonder if you can smurf me some time alone so that I can be with Empath."
"You mean right now, Smurfette?" Brainy asked. "But we've just smurfed here, and we're not even finished with..."
"Oh, sure, Smurfette, we can smurf that," Clumsy said, eager to get himself going. "Uh, Brainy, aren't you coming?"
Brainy sighed. "Very well, Clumsy. We can smurf back here to visit Empath later, if you insist." He and Clumsy then headed for the door and left the infirmary.
Smurfette then turned to Polaris Psyche. "Are you all right in here, being alone in here monitoring Empath's condition?" she asked.
"So far Empath's condition has remained stable, Smurfette, so there's nothing that this one can do at the moment for him," Polaris replied. "This one senses that you wish to be alone with Empath, so this one will respectfully move to the other room so that you can have your private time visiting him."
"Thanks, Polaris," Smurfette said, smiling. Polaris just nodded before he got up from his seat and headed for the other room.
Smurfette sat down beside Empath in his bed and reached out to hold his hand. She could see him resting peacefully on the bed, still unconscious. "I don't know if you can hear me, Empath, but I want you to know that I'm still thinking of you every day. I still remember that you smurfed me about our future, that we're going to be married and smurf a child together. I wasn't sure what to think of it, of whether that's actually going to happen between us. But the more I smurf with you, the more I wish that I could have that future be fulfilled with us now rather than later. Maybe neither of us are completely ready for that day to smurf, but no matter what happens, I'm not going to smurf up on you, not now and not ever. You hear that?"
Smurfette continued to look at Empath's face as he continued to rest, unresponsive. She leaned her face over his and kissed him on the lips to let him know how much she loved him.

Brainy and Clumsy were talking with each other as they walked away from the infirmary. "Ooooh...even as bundled as I am, I'm still feeling cold out here," Clumsy said as he shivered in his heavy jacket.
"This certainly isn't the day for smurfing out of our houses, Clumsy," Brainy said. "Right now, though, I'm not thinking about anything else but our good friend and my half-brother Empath. This is the closest that we have seen him having a smurf with death in all our years."
"You mean that there's a chance that Empath's going to smurf away if he doesn't recover, Brainy?" Clumsy asked.
"That's exactly what I'm fearing, Clumsy, but it's just not his absence that I'm wondering about," Brainy answered. "Rather, it's who's going to smurf the void of being Papa Smurf's assistant counselor if the worst should happen to him."
"Well, maybe Tapper will smurf the void," Clumsy suggested. "He seems good at smurfing advice to his fellow Smurfs whenever we need it."
"Tapper's got a tavern to run, Clumsy," Brainy said. "He can't smurf aside that and leave us with nowhere to smurf to in order to relax and unwind after a hard day's smurf if he's going to smurf beside Papa Smurf all day."
"Who knows?" Clumsy said. "Maybe Papa Smurf will choose you to smurf that role."
"Me as the assistant counselor...that's going to smurf over very well," Brainy said sarcastically. "Most of my fellow Smurfs would want to smurf me on a flight out of the village rather than smurf any good counsel from me, the wisest and smartest Smurf in the village who is second only to Papa Smurf."
"I don't know who else I can think of besides you or Tapper, Brainy," Clumsy said. "I just wish I knew as much as Empath does so I could smurf something."
Just then, Hefty came jogging by, dressed up warmly in a scarf, mittens, and jogging clothes. "So how's my favorite loser in the village doing today?" Hefty asked as he stopped by to talk to Brainy and Clumsy.
"You're just jealous that you're not as smart as me, Hefty," Brainy replied. "And for your information, we were just visiting Empath at the infirmary today to see how he was smurfing."
"Oh, so it's all about Empath today," Hefty said, sounding a bit disappointed. "Well, better him not smurfing anything today than him smurfing himself out to be the all-important savior of the village like he normally smurfs."
"All-important savior?" Clumsy said. "Uh, gee, I don't see Empath smurfing that of himself every day. Do you, Brainy?"
"That just goes to show how jealous some people are, Clumsy," Brainy said. "Hefty has to realize that little fact for himself that he's going to always smurf second-fiddle to someone like Empath."
"Not if I have anything to smurf about it, Brainy," Hefty said. "Well, anyway, don't smurf out here for too long." With that, Hefty started jogging away.
"The nerve of that Hefty, always belittling his betters because he has nothing better to smurf his time with," Brainy scoffed. "One of these days he's going to see just how much better off he is with Smurfs like me and Empath smurfing things in the village."
"It's a good thing he doesn't know our little secret, Brainy," Clumsy said, whispering the "our little secret" part so that others wouldn't hear.
"What 'little secret' is that...your personal infatuation with me?" Brainy said. "Really, Clumsy, I don't mind you smurfing that secret with me, but in all honesty, there's nothing that can ever smurf between the two of us in that fashion. It's not like we could even marry each other."
"But what if we could marry each other, Brainy?" Clumsy asked.
"That's something Mother Nature wouldn't even allow if it would make the two of us happier on the off-chance that Smurfette does marry one of the Smurfs in this village, so you might as well smurf that right out of your head," Brainy said.
Clumsy sighed. "Uh, I guess you're right about that, Brainy."
"Don't worry, Clumsy," Brainy said, trying to sound sympathetic. "We'll find a way to smurf through the latter years of our lives, trust me."

In the Smurflings' tree stump playhouse, the Smurflings are all huddled together, trying to keep themselves warm and their minds occupied by playing a role-playing board game. Nat was playing the role of the dungeon master while Snappy, Slouchy, and Sassette were playing the respective roles of warrior, wizard, and bard. So far they have been a few hours into playing the game, making some progress in the maze when the party of three had been hit by a band of fierce wolves. Snappy, Slouchy, and Sassette roll the dice in order to survive the attack, but it ended up being one that they barely survived, with each player low on hit points.
"I wonder how Empath's doing right now," Sassette finally said just to have something to say besides focusing on the game. "It's been like a few days since he got smurfed by that explosion."
"Aw, Sassy, why do you have to ruin a moment like this to talk about Empath?" Snappy asked.
"Why shouldn't I?" Sassette said, sounding a bit offended. "He's our friend, and I don't want to think about losing him at a time like this."
"Neither do any of us, Sassy," Nat said. "But Polaris is smurfing good care of him right now, so if there's anything happening to Empath, he'll let us know."
"I still kind of miss him," Slouchy said. "He should be here with us playing this game. He's usually very good as the dungeon master."
"Yeah, but we're going to have to make smurf without him for the time smurfing, so we might as well continue playing the game," Snappy said, sounding impatient to continue.
Sassette sighed. "I don't know. It just doesn't seem so fun anymore without Empath."
"I think I'm going to smurf a break from this as well," Slouchy said in agreement as he and Sassette got up from the floor and stepped away from the board game.
"Aw, come on, you smurfs," Snappy whined. "This is just starting to smurf really good, and now you want to quit? This is just really depressing. We only have a few more weeks of winter to smurf through, and then we can smurf back outside again."
"I'm sorry, Snap, but I'm going to have to smurf this game to an end right now," Nat said as he started to pick up the game pieces and put them away.
"All right, fine, smurf like that!" Snappy said as he went to grab his coat, scarf, and mittens. "I don't need to smurf around here with you smurfs anyway!" With that, he dressed himself up warmly and left the playhouse, slamming the door behind him.
"Snappy's sure smurfing this whole thing hard," Slouchy said as he helped to pick up the board game.
"Just let him smurf what he wants, as long as he's not hurting anybody but himself," Nat said. "We're going to smurf a way through this no matter what he smurfs."

Duncan McSmurf was in his house, practicing his sword thrusts and moves, trying to keep himself active and occupied during his off-time. He heard a knock on the door, so he put down his sword and went to answer it, finding out that it was Snappy.
"Laddie, what smurfs you here on a day like this?" Duncan asked.
"I'm just getting bored in my playhouse and I need some Smurf to talk to," Snappy answered.
"Well, come right in...let's not let the heat smurf out of the house now," Duncan said as he let Snappy enter in. They both found chairs to sit on near the fireplace. "So what's on your mind that you need to smurf about?"
"It's about Empath and how everybody's so worried about him since he got smurfed by that explosion a few days ago, Duncan," Snappy responded. "Everybody's acting like he's going to smurf away soon and we might as well face the future without him."
"I know how you feel, laddie," Duncan said. "Empath's usually a hard one to smurf, so I think that he's going to outsmurf all of us. But then I forget that he's just mortal like the rest of us, that even he can't escape the Grim Reaper."
"But you know him a lot longer than I do," Snappy said. "How can you even think that of your friend, when you know what he's capable of?"
"I'm not a fool, Snappy," Duncan said. "Having experienced all that he can smurf with those powers of his makes me wish that I could be like him in some way. But even those powers won't be enough to protect him from that final exit that he's going to smurf sooner or later."
"I just can't handle the thought that we might have to smurf without him if this is going to be his final moment with us, Duncan," Snappy said, sounding like he was going to break into tears.
"I'm not saying that it's not going to hurt us, but I know that we will carry on just as Empath would have wanted us to smurf if that's the case, laddie," Duncan said, putting his hand on Snappy's shoulder for comfort.

By nightfall, Dabbler came into the infirmary to see how Empath was doing. He could see Polaris still by Empath's bedside monitoring his condition.
"So is there any change to how Empath is smurfing, Polaris?" Dabbler asked as he came over to where Polaris was sitting.
"His condition hasn't changed for the past few days, Dabbler," Polaris said, sounding somewhat grim. "Whether this is a favorable condition or a prelude to something worse, this one doesn't know at this time."
"Well, you look like you could smurf a break," Dabbler said. "Why don't you smurf yourself over to the kitchen to smurf something to eat? You need your strength if you're going to continue monitoring Empath."
"This one is not in any need for sustenance at this time, Dabbler," Polaris said rather insistently. "When this one has any news about the change in Empath's condition, this one will let you know."
"Papa Smurf's worried about you, Polaris," Dabbler said. "If you end up collapsing from malnourishment, you're going to end up smurfing here beside Empath, and then we'll have two patients to smurf after."
Polaris sighed. "Perhaps this one needs to take heed of Papa Smurf's wisdom in this situation. This one will take a necessary break for sustenance and will return here as soon as possible."
"Don't worry, Polaris...Empath's still in very good hands here," Dabbler said, putting his hand on Polaris' shoulder to show some support.
Polaris nodded and headed for the kitchen, where he prepared for himself a bowl of porridge to eat. He sat alone in the dining hall eating his meal, trying to keep himself composed in the face of total uncertainty. Yet he couldn't keep himself from feeling complete sorrow over the whole situation. He wished that he could go back to Psychelia to at least be administered some psychelium so that he wouldn't have to feel the inner pain of this turmoil. He remembered that for a time when he went completely off psychelium, from his being disconnected from the collective conscience of the Psyches, that he had no control over his emotions, and the Smurfs thought that he had gone insane. Papa Smurf tried to correct the problem by offering Polaris a placebo in the form of a low-dose sugar pill so that Polaris could regain control over his emotions and thus get a grip on himself so he could function better as an individual. That, combined with the meditative practices that Polaris continued while outside of Psychelia, were a big help in that area.
Papa Smurf showed up in the dining hall when he saw who was in it. "Ah, Polaris...I didn't think that you would be in here by yourself," he said as he sat down with Polaris at a seat across from the young Psyche.
"Empath is still in a stable condition and is still unconscious, Papa Smurf," Polaris reported. "This one does not know if or when he will ever awaken."
"I know that you have been smurfing around the clock at his bedside to see if he would awaken, Polaris," Papa Smurf said. "I really wish that I could smurf you something that you would make you feel better about the whole situation, but I'm afraid that I'm at a loss here."
"Are you afraid that you're going to lose your son forever because of this incident, Papa Smurf?" Polaris asked.
"I fear for him just as much as I fear for all my little Smurfs as well as for you, my little Polaris," Papa Smurf said. "You may have been here for only a little more than a year, yet you have been like a son to me. You've hardly smurfed anything that would disappoint me. You've proven yourself to be loyal and faithful to me and all my little Smurfs. You've helped me to dispel, even for a little bit, all the bad notions that I had about the Psyches, and for that I am grateful."
"That is a rather comforting thing to hear from you at this time, Papa Smurf," Polaris said. "You are indeed a better example of a father figure to this one than the Psyche Master has been through the years this one has lived in Psychelia."
"We won't give up on Empath, as long as there is hope for a recovery, Polaris," Papa Smurf said.