Part 4

Back in the Smurf Village, Brainy was busy giving Polaris Psyche some advice on leadership roles when Polaris was interrupted by a vision that he saw in his head. Brainy didn't like that Polaris seemed too distracted to even listen to what Brainy had to say. "Great Ancestors," Polaris finally said.
"Polaris, what's going on? Are you all right?" Brainy asked, sounding concerned.
"This one has just seen Empath turn into a creature called the Wartmonger, and he is now going after the people called the Pussywillow Pixies, fellow Brainy," Polaris said.
"How can you smurf that happening?" Brainy asked. "Are you also precognitive like Empath is?"
"Psyches in general lack the ability of precognition, and as such we cannot foresee into future events," Polaris answered. "Somehow this one has been able to start seeing such events unfolding in random flashes, which most likely has come from being mentally connected with Empath since our day of bondship."
"Well, that's certainly interesting for a future study, Polaris, but right now that smurfs you with the question of what you're going to smurf about it," Brainy said.
"There's no time for any further discussions on the subject, Brainy," Polaris said. "This one must join the four Smurfs at Pussywillow Hollow and help them keep Empath from being a danger to the pixies."
"Wait a minute, Polaris, you can't just leave your position as the acting leader of the village to respond to the visions that you just...," Brainy tried to say as he watched Polaris head off into the forest without looking back. "Well, I guess that means that I'm in charge now until Papa Smurf returns."
At that point, Clumsy came to join with Brainy. "Hey, Brainy, did you notice Polaris just smurfing off into the forest?" Clumsy asked.
"As a matter of fact, Clumsy, I was in the middle of having a conversation with him when he decided to just leave the conversation and smurf off into the forest for Smurf-knows-what," Brainy responded.
"Gosh, I wonder what made Polaris smurf out of here in such a hurry," Clumsy said, looking in the direction that he just came from.
"It's nothing that you need to worry yourself about, Clumsy, trust me," Brainy said. "I'm sure that it must be something so important that Polaris can smurf care of it by himself. Anyway, I've got a village to run in the absence of Papa Smurf, who I'm sure wants a capable Smurf to watch over things while he's gone."
"Oh, goody," Clumsy said, sounding excited. "Can I be your assistant while you run the village? Huh? Can I?"
Brainy sighed. "As long as you smurf out of the way while I'm smurfing very important things to our fellow Smurfs, Clumsy."
Tapper and Smurfette came by at that moment. "Say, Brainy, do you happen to know where Polaris may be?" Tapper asked. "Smurfette and I were both going to ask him a very important question."
"I'm sorry, Tapper, but Polaris Psyche has left in the village and now I'm in charge of things until Papa Smurf returns, so whatever important question you need to ask will have to be smurfed to me, Brainy Smurf," Brainy said in his self-important voice.
"No thanks, Brainy, I would rather ask Polaris myself if he were here," Smurfette said, sounding displeased.
"I have a feeling in my spirit that he is responding to something he has smurfed in his mind regarding our fellow Empath, Smurfette," Tapper said. "In any case, we needn't bother Brainy with that sort of question."
"I only hope Empath is all right, wherever he is in Pussywillow Hollow, Tapper," Smurfette said.
"Gosh, Brainy, Tapper and Smurfette sure don't look happy that Polaris Psyche isn't here," Clumsy said as he watched Tapper and Smurfette walk away.
"Well, that only goes to smurf you that being the village leader isn't always an easy job where everybody would be willing to even smurf you the time of day, Clumsy," Brainy said.
"But we don't need to smurf anyone for the time of day, Brainy," Clumsy said. "We have a clock tower in the village that smurfs us the time."
"Oh, Clumsy, that's not exactly what I meant at all," Brainy said with a pained groan.

In the royal gymnasium, Princess Chamelianne was overseeing Empath's training as a new Pussywillow Pixie hunter, making sure that he was in the best shape possible for the task set before him. Empath went through the workout routine with all the strength and will he could muster and passed it with flying colors.
"This smurf doesn't get it, your highness," Empath said, sounding a bit exhausted when the routine was finished. "When are we going to work on freeing the female Wartmongers in the Warrens?"
"Soon, my dear, soon," Princess Chamelianne said. "For now, you must help the king capture his enemies and have them become his slaves in the slime mills, for if there's one thing the king cannot stand, it's having those rogue Pussywillow Pixies roaming free in the hollow."
"Yes, the Pussywillow Pixies," Empath said, as if he was starting to remember something that just came into his mind. "I will do anything you ask me to, for there's nobody among you that I desire more than you."
"I promise that you can have me for yourself when you prove that you are a good hunter," Princess Chamelianne said as she gently caressed Empath with the tip of her finger.
"But wouldn't we need to be married first before we can consummate our love for each other?" Empath asked.
"Why do you need to think that we should be chained to each other in such a fashion just so we can abandon ourselves to our own desires, my love?" Princess Chamelianne said.
"I...I don't know what made me think like that, my princess," Empath said. "It must be hard for you to live alone in the castle with only your uncle to watch over you like he does."
"You belong as one of us, Empath," Princess Chamelianne said. "Whatever you were thinking before you met me is all just in your imagination, a dream that you are now waking up from."
Empath had a feeling that what the princess was saying was right. It was as if everything he once knew about himself was nothing more than a fantasy...his living a life as a Smurf, his being in love with a female Smurf, him having a friend that came from Psychelia. The only thing that seemed to be on his mind was fulfilling whatever the princess and the king desired of him.
Empath and Princess Chamelianne stood looking into each other's eyes as if they were going to kiss each other when the guards came into the room. "Princess, the king wants to see Empath in his chambers right now," one of the guards said.
"I will be accompanying Empath for whatever the king wants of him," Princess Chamelianne said. They stepped aside as the princess led Empath out of the royal gymnasium and up to the throne room, where King Bullrush was relaxing on his throne with Slag the jester sitting next to him.
"Now is the time that you must prove yourself as a worthy hunter, Empath," King Bullrush said. "The Pussywillow Pixies have long since been our enemies because they refuse to submit to our rulership in the hollow, and we cannot let them continue to thumb their noses at us. We are Wartmongers, and we alone shall be the rulers of this region, and any creature that refuses to submit to us shall be dealt with. Is that understood?"
"I understand, your Majesty, and await for your orders," Empath replied.
"You are to go out into the hollow and capture the last six Pussywillow Pixies, and you shall not fail me like the three hunters that I had working before me," King Bullrush said. "You are stronger and better than they are, don't forget that. You will not last very long in this kingdom should I hear that you have failed me. Is that understood?"
"I understand that very clearly, your Highness," Empath replied, bowing before the king. "I will not fail you."
After Empath turned to leave the throne room, King Bullrush summoned his niece to stay so he could have a word with her. "I am trusting that he will be obedient to everything that you have made him believe with those abilities of yours, Chamelianne," the king said.
"He believes that he is truly a Wartmonger and has always been one, my king," Princess Chamelianne said. "There's nothing that he wouldn't do to prove his loyalty to you."
"Well, if he does prove himself, then perhaps I can let you and him enjoy some private time together, which I can see is what you desire of him," King Bullrush said. "But remember that you are only in this castle because you are my niece and I alone am permitting it to be so."
"I have not forgotten that, Uncle," Princess Chamelianne said. "I am grateful for the privileges you have given me as the princess, but the females in the Warrens are not so happy about my status."
"That is their lot in this life as females, and that will be your lot in this life if you should ever prove to betray my trust in you, Princess," King Bullrush said sternly.
Princess Chamelianne didn't say anything back. She just simply walked out of the throne room to attend to other matters.

Papa Smurf and the Pussywillow Pixies saw Hefty, Tuffy, and Duncan return to the pixies' hiding place within the hollow. "Please, my little Smurfs, tell me what had happened," Papa Smurf prompted.
"Empath's been captured by the Wartmongers, all right, and not only that, but he's been smurfed into one of them by Smurf-knows-what kind of magic that they smurfed upon him, Papa Smurf," Duncan reported.
"Oh dear, I'm afraid of what's happened to your fellow Smurf," Elderberry said as she and the other pixies overheard what Duncan was telling Papa Smurf.
"There is a way that we can reverse what they smurfed to Empath, isn't there?" Tuffy asked.
"Of course there is a way, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said. "Elderberry and I were just discussing about transformation spells, and she told me that there is a potion that can reverse those who have been transformed into Wartmongers."
"But in order to do that, we need to find a way to capture Empath," Pansy said.
"There's four brave Smurfs in the hollow with us," Lilac said. "How hard should that be to do that?"
"Believe me, Empath is not a Smurf that you'd want to smurf around with, and since he's not a Smurf anymore, that makes him even more dangerous," Hefty said.
"I'm afraid that Hefty is right, my little pixies," Papa Smurf said. "Even with the four of us Smurfs here to help protect you, Empath may be more than a match for us to smurf with."
"Then we need to come up with something that will help us capture him without confronting him," Holly said.
"How about we try to use the honey trap on Empath like we tried one time in order to cure Papa Smurf of his worry warts?" Acorn asked.
Elderberry looked intently at Acorn while meditating on the idea presented to her. "Why, that might be able to work, my child," she finally answered. "We just need to lure Empath into following us so that we can spring the trap on him."
"We'll get the lily blossom and fill it up with honey at once, Mother Elderberry," Bramble said, and so she and Holly went at once to get themselves the items they need for the trap.
"I don't like what we have to smurf to the poor laddie, even though it may be necessary, Papa Smurf," Duncan said.
"I know how you feel, my little Duncan," Papa Smurf said. "But I know that you care enough for Empath that you would not want him to be a danger to himself or anyone else."
"All I care about is smurfing my hands on Empath, even if we can't smurf him back to being a Smurf like us, which he will never be," Hefty said.

Meanwhile, Slop, Sludge, and Slime were out in the hollow with their bubble guns, wandering rather aimlessly and looking depressed about their situation.
"I can't believe it, Sludge," Slop said. "All those years serving the king and he casts us away just because we can't catch those Pussywillow Pixies."
"That just isn't fair," Slime said. "We've got to do something about this."
"Do? What is there to do?" Sludge said. "We can either prove that we're great hunters or this is how it's going to be for the rest of our years as Wartmongers."
"But those Pussywillow Pixies always manage to get away from us, no matter how hard we try to capture them, Sludge," Slime said.
"Yeah, and now they have those Smurfs also coming to their rescue, which makes things even worse for us," Slop said.
"Look, we were the best hunters that King Bullrush ever had in his court, but he's never going to have us back in his court until we can prove we are the best again," Sludge said. "The Smurfs may come to their rescue from time to time, but we all know by now that this place isn't where they live."
"Yeah, that's right, Sludge," Slop said. "I only wonder why they still come to this place anyway."
"Maybe they just want to get nice and squirmy with the pixies, like we want to get nice and squirmy with the princess, Slop," Slime said.
"Maybe they do want the pixies to stroke their horns, and maybe they don't," Sludge said. "What matters is that the Smurfs aren't always around to protect the pixies, and we have to be aware of that fact and use that to our advantage."
"Look, Sludge, here comes a really strange-looking Wartmonger," Slop said, directing their attention to a blue-skinned Wartmonger wearing Empath's clothes.
"Say, what are you doing out here, and where did you come from?" Slime asked nicely to make conversation with the stranger.
"Where I croak from is none of your business," the stranger replied. "What I am after are those Pussywillow Pixies, and I won't stop until I get my slimy hands on them."
"Hey, isn't that our job, Sludge?" Slop asked, not liking what he was hearing.
"As a matter of fact, it is, and I don't like strangers croaking in on our jobs as mighty pixie hunters," Sludge said, seconding Slop's emotion. "Whatever you're after, stranger, we were here first, so you'd better croak back home before you know what's good for you."
"Yeah, like Sludge said, this is our job, and no stranger is going to take it away from us," Slime said defiantly.
"This matter isn't up for debate...this job is going to be mine whether you like it or not," the stranger said. And with a sweep of his arm, he knocked all three Wartmongers away from him as they came closer to stop him.
"Wow, for a stranger, he surely is very strong," Slime said as the three of them watched the stranger depart.
"I can only wonder where Wartmongers like him even croak from in the first place," Slop said.
"Who cares about that?" Sludge said. "I'm not letting that big bullfrog of a Wartmonger try to horn in on our action here. We're going to capture us some pixies whether that stranger likes it or not."
"I don't know if I'd want to cross paths with that Wartmonger again, Sludge," Slop said, sounding fearful.
"Uh, me neither," Slime said, and so both he and Slop ended up running away.
"You cowards," Sludge muttered as he watched the two of them run off. "Oh well, if they don't want the glory of capturing the pixies, then I'll have to croak this all by myself and show up those whimpering little tadpoles."

Alone in Slither's chamber, Princess Chamelianne looked through the crystal ball at Empath going out into the hollow to capture Pussywillow Pixies. She felt a strong desire to be with him, and she also hoped that Empath would feel the same way for her now that she had manipulated his mind into making him believe that he was a Wartmonger. Yet there was something still in Empath's mind that Chamelianne could sense -- the lingering memory of a female Smurf that he was attracted to. She knew that the female was in the same village that Empath had come from, and she felt as if she was dealing with a rival for his full affections.
The princess summoned the crystal ball to show her images of what's going on in the Smurf Village at that moment. Suddenly she saw that the female Smurf wasn't alone, for there was another male Smurf with her...the one who called himself Tapper...trying to give comfort unto her while Empath was gone from the village. Then in an instant, Smurfette seemed to recoil.
"Great Smurfiny Crickets, my dear Smurfette, are you all right?" Tapper asked.
"I don't know, but I get the creepy feeling like somebody is smurfing us right now...somebody that I feel that has also smurfed away Empath," Smurfette said.
"There's nothing for you to worry about, Smurfette," Tapper said. "We are safe in the Smurf Village, and Papa Smurf and our friends are smurfing in the hollow trying to smurf Empath back home."
"Then why do I still feel the hairs on the smurf of my head smurfing on end?" Smurfette asked.
"Maybe it's something that you're smurfing in your spirit, like I do at times when I smurf that there may be something dangerous," Tapper suggested. "But we'll never know for sure until the lads return home."
"Oh, Empath, wherever you are, remember that I still love you," Smurfette said as she looked out into the forest, though as Chamelianne saw it through the crystal ball, it was as if Smurfette herself was looking right into the eyes of her rival, knowing that she was there to take Empath away from her.
Princess Chamelianne's eyes burned with anger as she watched Smurfette walk away with Tapper. She wasn't going to let Empath have anything left to remember Smurfette by if she could help it.