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Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 02-20-2012 10:55 AM:
 
Disclaimer: I do not own the Smurfs. Please don't sue me or steal my story. Thanks!

NOTE: I started writing this story in response to a special request from a friend. It was meant to be a quick one-shot in which Brainy's arrogant ways get turned against him, but it insisted on growing! And then, I started weaving in a few more requests... Now I'm not sure how many chapters it'll have. Still, I figured I'd start putting it up anyway. I hope you enjoy it! [Big Grin]

Lessons Never Smurfed
By Rowena


1. The Explosion

The explosion rocked the entire Smurf Village, from roof to root-cellar. Smurfs came running from all corners, calling out to each other in alarm and confusion. Even Lazy woke from his nap and looked around.

"Oh! What in the world was that!" Smurfette exclaimed.

"I don't know, Smurfette," Hefty said, "but I think it came from Papa Smurf's lab!"

A growing crowd of Smurfs gathered in the clearing before Papa Smurf's red-and-yellow roofed mushroom house. Thick, purple-black smoke curled out the windows, up the chimney, and through the narrow crack under the door. The Smurfs could hear Papa Smurf's angry shouts coming from inside, loud enough to rattle the shutters.

"Brainy, I told you: TWO drops of lava juice. Not TWELVE. TWO!"

"I know, Papa Smurf, but I thought if I just increased—"

"You didn't think, Brainy. You never think! You just do! That's the trouble!"

"I'm sorry, Papa Smurf. I really am! I certainly didn't intend—"

"'Sorry!' 'Sorry!' That's all I ever hear from you, Brainy!"

"Sorry, Papa Smurf. But, I—"

"No, no, you can save your 'sorries' and your 'buts'. It's not going to work this time. This time, Brainy Smurf, you have finally smurfed the limit. In fact, after the stunt you just pulled, I am seriously considering dropping you as my apprentice."

"Papa Smurf! But you can't—"

"I most certainly can! I am smurf up to here with your stubborn, prideful, empty-headed arrogance. I need a Smurf who can smurf directions. A Smurf who knows better than to RUIN my experiment and nearly smurf us both to Kingdom Smurf!"

"But Papa Smurf, I didn't mean…"

"You meant to do just what you did! You thought you knew better than your old Papa Smurf, and don't you dare smurf me otherwise."

"I… I'm sorry… I'll clean it up—"

"You're not touching my equipment. Get out, Brainy. Out, OUT, OUT of my sight, before I smurf something you'll regret!"

"OK, OK, Papa Smurf, I'm going! But, before I leave, can I just say in my defense that—"

The Smurfs gathered outside took a step back as Papa Smurf's singed door burst open and a soot-stained Brainy came shooting out, soaring over their heads with a pained yelp.

Papa Smurf lowered his kicking foot and shouted after him, "And I don't want to see your spectacled blue face near my lab again until you can smurf me exactly what you did wrong!"

Papa Smurf slammed his door shut, disappearing back into his smoky, shattered lab.

The gathered Smurfs stared at each other for a moment, then burst into cheers.

"Ooh, hoo!" Hefty laughed, "At last, that blowhard Brainy got what he deserved!"

"Yeah," Handy agreed, crossing his arms over his overalls. "A swift, sharp kick in the pants."

"My Smurfs. I never knew Papa Smurf had it in him," Poet said with some wonder.

"Me neither," Greedy said, licking pink frosting off the smurfberry cupcake in his hand. "But after an explosion like that one, even our level-headed Papa Smurf's entitled to lose his temper, I think."

"I hate explosions!" Grouchy stated.

"Uh, yeah, me too," Clumsy said. "Poor Brainy. He must be smurfin' pretty low about now."

"Humph! I don't feel bad for him one bit," Smurfette said. "I say it's about time Papa Smurf put his foot down where Brainy's concerned."

"Yeah," Hefty said. "Papa Smurf's always gone way too easy on the little smarty-pants, if you ask me."

"I hate smarty-pants!" Grouchy proclaimed.

"You have said it, mes amis," Painter said. "Our Brainy, he needs to learn he does not always know best!"

"Brainy doesn't know anything. Anything really useful, anyway. All he does is criticize the rest of us," Handy said, and shook his head. "I'm smurfing back to work. Call me when it's lunch time, OK, Greedy?"

"I always do, Handy," the chef said, scarfing down the last of his cupcake.

In less than a minute, the crowd had dispersed and the Smurfs had returned to their chores. No one gave another thought to the argument between Brainy and Papa Smurf until the next morning…when Brainy didn't show up for breakfast.

To Be Continued...
[Cool] [Smile]
 
Posted by Sportette 2 (Member # 4245) on 02-20-2012 11:08 AM:
 
I wonder what happened to brainy :curious:
 
Posted by Nurturer Smurf (Member # 4050) on 02-20-2012 11:21 AM:
 
wow, this got interesting right away!
 
Posted by Squeaky Smurf (Member # 2416) on 02-20-2012 03:55 PM:
 
As if each one of them hadn't any faults at all. Poor Brainy. [Frown]
Very cool and smurfy beguinning, Rowena! [Happy Smurf]
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 02-21-2012 07:25 AM:
 
Thanks very much! [Big Grin] Here's part two:

2. The Aftermath

"That Brainy. He's probably still sulking in his room," Hefty said, stabbing a stack of smurfberry pancakes and dropping them onto his plate. "He'll smurf out when he's hungry enough."

"Uh, gosh, I don't know, Hefty," Clumsy said. "I think Brainy's pretty upset."

"What do you mean, Clumsy?" Papa Smurf asked.

"Well, Papa Smurf," the kind Smurf said, "Brainy didn't answer when I knocked on his door this morning. An' I knock on his door every morning!"

Papa Smurf sighed and pushed away his plate.

"Perhaps I was too hard on Brainy," he said. "I shouldn't have lost my temper like that."

"Don't be so hard on yourself, Papa Smurf," Smurfette said. "We all heard what happened. It wasn't your fault."

"Just the same, I should probably speak with him," Papa Smurf said.

Clumsy jumped awkwardly to his feet.

"Uh, can I come, Papa Smurf?" he asked. "I want to know what that note says."

Papa Smurf frowned.

"What note?"

"Why, the note tacked to Brainy's door!"

"What? Clumsy, why didn't you mention this note before?"

"Well, I—"

But Papa Smurf was already hurrying across the clearing toward Brainy's house. Clumsy loped after him, followed by a small cluster of curious Smurfs.

Papa Smurf tore the note from the door and read it quickly. "Oh, Brainy…"

"Gee, what's it say, Papa Smurf?" Clumsy asked anxiously.

"Dear Papa Smurf," Papa Smurf read, "I know I failed you and for that I am truly sorry. I am everything you said I was, and the truth of that is all around me, in every book I ever smurfed. Therefore, after long and careful consideration, I have decided to smurf a journey of self-discovery—much as you did when you were a young Smurf. I vow I will not return home until I can be the kind of assistant you deserve. Please do not come looking for me. Just smurf the other Smurfs my love, and my apologies. Signed, Brainy Smurf."

"Oh, gosh!" Clumsy exclaimed. "Brainy's run away!"

"We have to smurf after him, Papa Smurf," Hefty said.

"I'll go, Papa Smurf," Smurfette volunteered.

Clumsy raised his hand.

"And me!"

Papa Smurf shook his head and rolled Brainy's letter into a tight cylinder.

"Thank you, my little Smurfs," he said. "But, there will be no search party. Not this time."

"But, Papa Smurf, Brainy's out there, alone in the forest! What if he's captured? What if his glasses break? He'll be helpless! We can't just let him—" Hefty started, but Papa Smurf waved his hand.

"Yes, we can, Hefty. And in this case, I think we must."

"What do you mean, Papa Smurf?" Smurfette asked.

"I understand now that what happened in my lab yesterday was just as much my fault as it was Brainy's."

"No, Papa Smurf!" the others cried.

"Yes. Now, now, let me explain, my little Smurfs," he said, calming their protests. "I have been too complacent; expecting you all to follow my instructions without question as if you were still little Smurflings. But you're not Smurflings anymore, and it's only natural you will be wanting to do things on your own, in your own way, without me always smurfing over your shoulder.

"For most of you, finding your niche has been relatively easy. There is plenty to do in a Village like ours, and every Smurf has his or her own special talents. You have all been able to assert your independence and your individuality in a productive, helpful way. But, Brainy is a different case."

Hefty snorted.

"Why? Because he's an obnoxious know-it-all who always sticks his nose in other Smurfs' business and never minds his own?"

"Because, from the time he was just a baby Smurfling, I made the mistake of treating Brainy differently from the rest of you," Papa Smurf admitted. "I was far too overprotective of him. Not because he's more talented, as I allowed him to think…perhaps for too long. But, because Brainy has a very serious handicap that sets him apart from all other Smurfs."

"You mean his eyes, Papa Smurf?" Clumsy said.

"I'm afraid so, Clumsy," Papa Smurf said. "Without his glasses, Brainy is almost completely blind. All the time you young Smurfs were growing up, I constantly worried what would happen to him if he ever smurfed too far out of my sight. I didn't allow him to smurf mistakes and risk getting hurt like the rest of you; I simply smurfed him the answers so he'd stay close. Now, he's come to expect special attention, and when he doesn't get it, he—"

"He lectures the rest of us on how he deserves our respect and admiration because 'Brainy knows best.'" Smurfette scowled. "Well, Brainy doesn't know best, Papa Smurf. And, if you ask me, that's got nothing to do with whether you coddled him too much when he was a Smurfling. Brainy's a big Smurf now, and he should know better than to try to smurf our attention by running off alone!"

"Smurfette's right, Papa Smurf," Hefty said. "It's dangerous for any Smurf to be alone in the forest, glasses or no glasses."

Papa Smurf glanced down at Brainy's letter and sighed.

"As much as I agree with you Smurfs, I believe the last thing Brainy needs right now is more protection," he said. "He needs to learn who he is as an individual Smurf, away from us, and away from the Village. And I think he should have this chance."

"But, Papa Smurf—"

"Don't worry, Hefty, I won't let him smurf this journey alone," Papa Smurf said. "I think the thing to do would be to pay a call on my dear old friend, Lyssandra."

"You mean, the ancient Elf sorceress who took you on as her apprentice when you were a young Smurf like us?" Hefty said. "Is she still alive?"

"Oh, very much so," Papa Smurf said with a slight chuckle, "if not quite as active as she once was. We exchange letters quite regularly. If Brainy is ever to smurf his true abilities, I can think of no better guide than Lyssandra. In fact, if one of you Smurfs could please ask Nat to call for Feathers, I'll set off immediately."

"Uh, I'll go, Papa Smurf," Clumsy volunteered, and galloped off at once.

Hefty and Smurfette exchanged a concerned look.

"Uh…Papa Smurf," Smurfette said. "Even if Lyssandra does agree to help Brainy, we still don't know where he went. And the forest is so big. How will she ever find him?"

"Yeah, Papa Smurf," Hefty said. "Can't we at least take Tracker and smurf after him? Not to smurf him home, just to make sure he's safe until Lyssandra shows up."

"Papa Smurf, Papa Smurf!" Clumsy called. "Feathers is on her way!"

"Thank you, Clumsy," Papa Smurf called back. "And my thanks to Nat as well. Hefty, Smurfette, you may find Tracker and trail Brainy. Just be sure to keep out of sight."

"Thank you, Papa Smurf!"

"We will, Papa Smurf!"

A moment later, a large crane landed in the center of the Village and spread out a wing to allow Papa Smurf to climb aboard.

"To Lyssandra's home, Feathers," he said. "Take care until I return, my little Smurfs!"

"We will, Papa Smurf!" the Smurfs chorused, waving and waving until the friendly crane was well out of sight beyond the trees.

Hefty watched them go, then grunted.

"Leave it to Brainy to cause all this trouble."

"Do you really think that old elf will be able to help him, Hefty?" Smurfette asked.

"Well, she taught Papa Smurf everything he knows, and Papa Smurf's the wisest wizard going. If she can't smurf Brainy right, no one can," Hefty said. "Come on, Smurfette, let's go find Tracker."

To Be Continued...
[Smile] [Happy Smurf] [Smurfette]
 
Posted by Smurfy1For2 (Member # 1224) on 02-22-2012 04:53 AM:
 
I LOVE Brainy in this story Rowena!! I never thought I'd worry about him!

[Confused]
 
Posted by Nurturer Smurf (Member # 4050) on 02-22-2012 06:45 AM:
 
poor Brainy. it sounds like he's feeling pretty bad :-(
 
Posted by Sportette Smurfette (Member # 4102) on 02-22-2012 07:04 AM:
 
This is awsome so far!
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 02-22-2012 01:57 PM:
 
Thanks! [Big Grin]

Yep, Brainy's got a lot to learn, but he's not the only one to worry about. You'll see what I mean in the coming chapters... [Eek!]

Now it's time to meet Lyssandra. Hope you like this next bit! [Big Grin]

3. Lyssandra

Tracker Smurf straightened up from his inspection of the grassy ground and smoothed back the long, red feather in his cap.

"So, Tracker? Do you smurf anything?" Hefty asked him.

"I am certain a Smurf passed this way, but I can't say if it was Brainy," said the expert woodsmurf. "The footprints are the right size, but they are strangely deep. Either this Smurf is heavier than Greedy, or he's carrying an exceptionally weighty satchel."

Hefty rolled his eyes. "I'll smurf for option two. Knowing Brainy, he probably smurfed his entire library with him."

"Yes, that would explain it," Tracker said. "From the way this grass is bent, I'd say he couldn't have been by here more than…" He got down on all fours and started sniffing the all-but-invisible trail. "Oh, perhaps an hour ago."

"An hour!" Smurfette exclaimed. "Oh, dear! How will we ever catch up with him?"

"Fear not, Smurfette," Tracker said gallantly. "If Brainy kept smurfing in this direction, even with his heavy books he's probably nearly made it to Paradise Falls. Fortunately, I know a shortcut that can get us to the falls in only fifteen minutes!"

"Nice smurfing, Tracker," Hefty said, and thumped the woodsmurf on the back. "You smurf the way. Once we know Brainy's safe, all we have to do is watch him until Lyssandra smurfs up, then report back to Papa Smurf."

"Out of curiosity, Hefty," Tracker said, "what does Papa Smurf think Lyssandra can do for Brainy?"

"I don't know exactly," Hefty said. "But if she can get the little blabbersmurf to quit lecturing us and stop him from smurfing those annoying quotations in my ear, that'll be enough for me."

"Me too," Smurfette agreed.

"Hm…" Tracker looked thoughtful, but he didn't say any more on the subject. He just turned to the right and said, "This way, Smurfs. Follow me!"

*******

The sorceress Lyssandra made her home beneath a ruin so ancient, the moss and trees had long ago reclaimed every stone. Feathers let Papa Smurf off at the base of a gnarled oak near the center of the sloped, circular space, then settled into the branches above to wait.

"Do you remember what I told you about this place, young Smurf?"

Papa Smurf turned in surprise. "Lyssandra!"

The old Elf seemed to melt out of the shadows under the tree. "It was once an amphitheater," she said. "I used to come here when I was just a little Elfling, to watch the Romans put on their plays."

Papa Smurf smiled. "I remember, my friend. I remember everything you taught me."

Lyssandra inclined her head. Her great age seemed to weigh heavily upon her, but the ancient sorceress wore it with dignity. Her back was straight, her silver hair—a startling gray-white that matched her eyes—flowed down her back, and her darkly shimmering cloak flattered her willowy figure. She carried a tall, wooden staff in her hand, and tapped the tip against the mossy tree roots as she made her way closer to Papa Smurf.

"You haven't come to visit me in person in over three hundred years, my boy," she said. "Why do you come now, when I have finished my breakfast and can offer you nothing but cold sassafras tea until lunch?"

Papa Smurf chuckled and held out an arm for Lyssandra to take as they walked together toward the hidden entrance to her home.

"Dear Lyssandra, you are as hospitable as ever," Papa Smurf said. "But I'm afraid this isn't a social visit. I…well, I have a very important favor to ask of you."

"Do you now," Lyssandra said, tapping the side of the tree with her stick. A well camouflaged door creaked open, and she led Papa Smurf down a flight of curving stairs. "Tell me, young Smurf, would this favor have something to do with your little Smurf charges?"

"They're not so little anymore, Lyssandra," Papa Smurf said as they strolled through a dimly lit stone hall with a high, domed ceiling. "And, I must admit, I am hardly young. In fact, apart from Baby and the four Smurflings, my little Smurfs are now about the same age I was when I first met you—old enough to take on grown-up responsibilities, but young enough that they are still learning, still growing, and still discovering who they are."

"The Sands of Time slip by so swiftly," Lyssandra said. "I sometimes think Father Time should recalibrate his hourglass. Until that happens, it's no good wasting what little time we have together beating around the bush. Tell me plainly what you want, my hardly-young Smurf, and I shall pour the tea."

She opened the door to her study, and Papa Smurf saw she had an entire spread laid out for them on the center table. Piping hot tea, fresh muffins, and savory pastries filled the domed space with tantalizing smells.

Papa Smurf laughed. "Cold sassafras tea, indeed. Lyssandra, my friend, you are truly a wonder."

"I know," she said, sweeping past shelves and stacks and piles of books and scrolls to pour the tea into the waiting cups. "Now sit, eat, drink, and let's discuss this runaway Smurf of yours. He is a brash, impatient youth, yes? A Smurf with eyes that look, but can not see."

"His name is Brainy," Papa Smurf said.

Lyssandra nodded slowly. "Ah, yes. I know of this Brainy. In your letters, you often spoke of your concern for him. A blind Smurfling facing down a world of predators…"

"I was hoping you could help him, Lyssandra. Teach him, as you once taught me. You see, I'm afraid I may have spoiled him. I know that Brainy has a kind and caring heart, but he's grown to possess such a high opinion of himself—"

"—That, perhaps, you are no longer sure how to reach him without wounding him?" A small smile crept across the old Elf's face.

Papa Smurf sighed. "I watched him change before my eyes from a bright and curious Smurfling to an officious, interfering know-it-all and I smurfed precious little to intervene. I love him dearly, Lyssandra, as I love all my little Smurfs, but if this unsmurfy behavior of his gets any worse, I fear for his future."

"Yes, I quite understand, my friend."

"Then you'll help him? You'll take him on as your assistant?"

Lyssandra glided across the cluttered room toward a tall mirror with a simple frame.

"Is this your young Brainy?" she asked, waving her long stick before the glass. There was a slight ripple effect, and Papa Smurf saw an image of Brainy hiking through the forest. He carried a heavy-looking satchel on his back and seemed rather lost.

"Yes, yes, that's Brainy. He left home after I lost my temper with him. He hopes that by seeing something of the world, he can learn to be a better Smurf."

"Then he is willing to learn. That is very good. Very promising." Lyssandra nodded, and turned to face Papa Smurf. "You may return home to your family now, my friend. I will watch over this Smurf."

Papa Smurf could barely contain a relieved and happy grin. "Then I will leave my dear little Brainy in your capable hands," he said, gracing the sorceress with a courtly bow. "Farewell, Lyssandra. And, thank you."

To Be Continued...

Next Time: Smurfette, Hefty, and Tracker find Brainy, Brainy finds a new mentor, and all of them find trouble! Stay Tuned! [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Nurturer Smurf (Member # 4050) on 02-22-2012 02:45 PM:
 
i am very glad that Brainy has someone watching over him. i sure hope the others will be alright too :-)
 
Posted by Chloette Smurfette (Member # 4119) on 02-22-2012 04:47 PM:
 
Yeah, the smurfs have had some bad times with Brainy in the past.
 
Posted by MissCassidy (Member # 3409) on 02-23-2012 07:44 PM:
 
So far so good! Great story Rowena, thank you for sharing it!
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 02-24-2012 12:57 PM:
 
Thank you all for reading it!

The trouble I was hinting at before is about to take shape. Here's:

4. The Most Intellectual Smurf

Rushing water roared somewhere up ahead. Brainy Smurf wiped a hand across his brow and shuffled toward the sound. He'd been wandering the forest since dawn without a destination, and the day was beginning to heat up.

"I need to find a place to rest, before this strap smurfs me in half," the spectacled Smurf moaned, adjusting his heavy, book-stuffed satchel. "I suppose I could have packed less food… But, then again…"

The exhausted Smurf leaned against the textured bark of a rowan tree and looked around.

"Where am I, anyway? The canopy in this part of the forest is so thick, I can't smurf the sun to know what time it is! And I'm getting hungry. I wonder if I should smurf my lunch now, or if it would be wiser to wait until I've smurfed a more promising pa-aaa-aaath!"

The ground shook beneath him. Brainy dropped his satchel and dove into the hollow of a nearby oak stump just in time to avoid getting trampled under the hooves of an angry, rearing horse.

The horse was brown and surprisingly small, as was its rider—a muscular young Fairy nobleman with shimmering wings and a flowing, red cloak. As Brainy watched from his hiding place, the horse threw the Fairy, then limped away through the trees.

"Ow! Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!" the Fairy groaned, and rolled to his feet, shouting after the horse. "Get back here, you fool creature! Where do you think you're going!"

"Hm… That Fairy looks like he could use some help," Brainy said, and brightened. "Ah ha! This could be it! The chance I've been waiting for to prove myself to Papa Smurf! If I smurf this Fairy a hand with his horse, he might agree to smurf me home with him to the Fairy Realm. Everysmurf knows how flighty Fairies are. A level-headed, intellectual Smurf like me would be invaluable to them!"

He chuckled behind his hand.

"Yes, once I demonstrate my superior intellect, the Fairy Queen will naturally appoint me her advisor, and I, Brainy Smurf, would return home a wise and cultured Smurf-of-the-World. A Smurf Papa Smurf will be proud of! Now, which way did he go…?"

Climbing out of the stump, Brainy grabbed his satchel and followed the little horse's prints around a dense thicket of brambles. Once out of the underbrush, he looked up to see a very high, roaring waterfall. The Fairy and his horse were near its base – the horse playing keep-away, and the furious Fairy slipping and sliding on the wet grass and mud along the riverbank. The Fairy looked so funny with his coiffed hair in dripping ringlets and his rich clothes splattered with mud, that Brainy couldn't hold back a giggle.

"Who's that?"

The Fairy jumped to his feet and scanned the riverbank, his dark eyes sharp and angry.

"Who dares to laugh at Count Braggadocchio?" he said. "I demand you show yourself!"

Brainy swallowed his smile and puffed out his chest, striding out into the sunlight.

The Fairy curled his lip.

"Gah! I should have known it would be a Smurf!"

"Not just any Smurf, your Count-ness." Brainy said proudly, his nose in the air. "I am—"

"You will address me as 'My Lord,'" the Fairy snapped. "And I don't really care who you are. A Smurf is a Smurf, and as every Fairy knows, Smurfs are not to be trusted. Now, out of my sight, little pipsqueak. Can't you see I'm busy?"

"Hmph! Busy falling, maybe," Brainy retorted. "It's obvious to anysmurf that your horse has thrown a shoe. Now I, Brainy Smurf, have made a personal study of animal habits and behavior, and it's smurfectly clear to me that this horse is not going to let you smurf anywhere near him until—"

The Fairy seemed to expand as Brainy spoke, his face reddening and his eyes bulging.

"You think I don't know how to see to my own horse? I, Count Braggadocchio!"

Blind to the Count's rising anger, Brainy unbuttoned his satchel and started digging through his books.

"Well, you're not exactly doing a smurfy job of it. Now, if you would just consult my book, Brainy Smurf, Friend to All the Animals, chapter eight, page ninety-two, I think you'd find—"

"Impudent blue wretch!"

The mud-splattered Fairy grabbed Brainy by the shoulders and booted him and his satchel high into the air. Books fluttered to earth in a wide arc as the spectacled Smurf soared back into the forest with a pained yelp.

"Such an arrogant little know-it-all," the Fairy growled. "Even for a Smurf!"

Gathering himself up, Brainy rubbed his sore tail and scowled back in the direction he'd come.

"Of all the arrogance...even for a Fairy!" he said, and straightened his glasses. "After all, I was only trying to offer him some helpful advice."

Brainy sighed and looked around at his scattered library.

"Oh well, who wants to be a Fairy's advisor, anyway," he said, dusting off his books and stuffing them back into his bag. "There are plenty of other ways a Smurf like me could be useful. I just need to smurf someone who appreciates my genius!"

He chuckled.

"After all, I am the most intellectual Smurf in Smurf Village, not to mention Papa Smurf's personal assistant. How hard could it be?"

*******

"Yep, Brainy was here all right. Along with a very muddy Fairy, and a Fairy horse that seems to have thrown a shoe."

Tracker pointed out the little hoof prints in the squishy grass near the base of the waterfall. He followed the tracks for a moment, then began to chuckle.

"What's so funny?" Hefty asked.

"Looks like that horseshoe wasn't the only thing that was thrown," the woodsmurf said. "Brainy must have smurfed something to annoy that Fairy, because his tracks end quite abruptly. I can only assume he was – heh, heh – booted back into the forest."

Smurfette shook her head.

"Oh, Brainy," she said. "Well, where is he now, Tracker?"

Hefty gasped and grabbed her hand.

"He's just ahead! Quick, everysmurf! Hide!"

The three Smurfs jumped into the underbrush just as Brainy came into view.

"I think that's all of them," Brainy said, scanning the riverbank for any books he might have missed. "Hm, good. That unsmurfy Fairy's gone. Now, all I need to do is find a way to smurf across this river, and— Great Smurfs, what's that?"

Tracker sniffed the breeze, and a frown fell over his features.

"Yes...what is that? It smells almost like..."

"Tracker, look!" Hefty whispered. "Something strange is smurfing on!"

Hefty, Smurfette, and Tracker watched in amazement as the air in front of Brainy began to shimmer and ripple. A moment later, a slender, female figure stepped out of the disturbance: an elderly elf with silver-white hair and a tall, wooden staff.

"Could that be Lyssandra?" Smurfette whispered.

Hefty shrugged, and gestured for her to pay attention.

"Who—who are you?" Brainy stammered.

"I'm an old friend of your Papa Smurf," the elf said, and held out a small metal broach stamped with a wizard's seal Brainy recognized at once as Papa Smurf's. Beneath it was the more powerful seal of an Elvish sorceress. "I've been observing you, young Brainy."

Brainy stared up at her.

"O-observing me? You...you mean, you saw...? When that Fairy..."

Brainy seemed to shrink with mortification. He dreaded looking foolish and being laughed at more than anything else in the world.

The sorceress smiled kindly.

"My name is Lyssandra," she said. "Perhaps you know of me?"

"Lyssandra... Great Smurfs! Surely, you're not the same Lyssandra who taught Papa Smurf how to smurf magic! But-but what do you want with me? I'm just..."

He glanced down at his satchel and blushed, her calm, powerful presence making him feel very awkward, and very, very young.

"Your Papa Smurf paid me a visit this morning," she said. "Something he has not done in many years. He seems to think you're ready to move on to the next step in your education."

"Next step?" Brainy blinked behind his glasses. "You mean... Did Papa Smurf—"

"He asked me if I might mentor you, as my apprentice," Lyssandra said. "As I once mentored him."

Brainy's eyes were as wide as dessert plates.

"Really?"

"If you accept this offer, young Smurf," Lyssandra said, "you will be agreeing to what is, essentially, a term of service. You will follow my rules and do as I say, and in return, if you pass my tests, you will gain the opportunity to prove yourself a wizard in your own right."

"A wizard in my own right..."

Brainy swayed in place, too overwhelmed to remember to breathe.

"Do you agree to these terms, Brainy Smurf?"

"And Papa Smurf really said it was OK?" Brainy asked. "He really thinks that I, Brainy Smurf, could be a...a wizard? Like him?"

"He thinks you have the potential," Lyssandra said. "Whether or not you have the discipline is something you must prove, to me and to yourself. Well, Brainy? What do you say?"

"I'll do it!" Brainy exclaimed, beaming a grin so wide it nearly split his face. "When do I start?"

"Give me your right hand," Lyssandra said.

Brainy willingly held it out to her.

Lyssandra took it, and pressed his thumb to her broach. The broach glowed blue, and when it faded, the simple seal of an apprentice had been added to its polished surface.

"Wow," Brainy gasped. "Amazing!"

"You are now my apprentice, Brainy Smurf," Lyssandra said. "And, unless you quit my service of your own free will, you will remain so until I tell you otherwise. Do you understand?"

"I do, Lyssandra," Brainy said. "But I won't quit. As Papa Smurf always says, you must finish what you start, and once I've started something I always finish it, because—"

"Brainy," Lyssandra said.

The eager Smurf blinked up at her.

"Yes, Lyssandra?"

"Come with me."

"Yes, Lyssandra!"

As Tracker, Hefty, and Smurfette watched from their hiding place in the bushes, Lyssandra waved her staff and stepped through the resulting ripple in the air. After a moment's hesitation, Brainy hopped through the portal after her, and the shimmer faded away.

"Incredible!" Tracker exclaimed, scampering to examine the site where the portal had been. "I've never smurfed anything quite like it! Why, that portal left no trace at all!"

"It's magic, Tracker," Hefty said. "What did you expect?"

"Well, when magic is used, it often leaves behind a smell, or..."

He trailed off, his nose twitching as he turned slowly in place.

"A smell... Just before Lyssandra appeared, I thought I smelled—"

"AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!" Smurfette screamed, and pointed a trembling finger towards a large, hulking shape crouched just behind the bushes. "It's...it's..."

"It's Azrael!" Tracker shouted. "Quick, everysmurf, behind the waterfall! We might be able to escape him in the caves!"

To Be Continued...
[Azrael]
 
Posted by Sportette Smurfette (Member # 4102) on 02-24-2012 01:30 PM:
 
Awsome story so far
 
Posted by Uncle Gargy (Member # 4048) on 02-24-2012 02:28 PM:
 
Get them Azrael ! [Gargamel]
 
Posted by Squeaky Smurf (Member # 2416) on 02-24-2012 03:28 PM:
 
I supposed fairies were more polite.
Great and smurfy story, Rowena! [King Smurf] [Wild Smurf] [Scuba Smurf] [King Tut Smurf] [Astro Smurf]
 
Posted by Nurturer Smurf (Member # 4050) on 02-24-2012 11:27 PM:
 
ooo how very exciting!
 
Posted by Smurfette (Member # 4140) on 02-24-2012 11:36 PM:
 
quote:
Originally posted by Uncle Gargy:
Get them Azrael ! [Gargamel]

[Smurfette] *gasp* , Go away you mean old kitty!
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 02-25-2012 03:08 PM:
 
Let the chase begin! [Azrael]

5. The Nature of the Beast

Azrael jumped over the bush with a shrill yowl, and swiped at Smurfette. She dodged the cat's sharp claws, but nearly slipped in the wet grass. Hefty grabbed her arm and together, they followed Tracker toward the river's edge.

The water rushed past, crashing against slippery rocks and foaming against the steep bank.

"The way to the caves is across these rocks," Tracker shouted over the roar, ushering his friends past him toward a curving trail of smooth, wet stones. "Go, go! Quickly!"

"Oh…oh dear…" Smurfette's hands trembled, but she clenched her fists and jumped to the first stone, then the next. Hefty followed close behind, helping her keep her balance as the water crashed and splashed all around them.

Azrael snarled, slipping and sliding in the mud, but never breaking step. Tracker kept one eye on the cat, and the other on Hefty and Smurfette. The Smurfs were doing well, but Azrael was stalking closer, his hungry eyes fixed on Tracker's friends.

Setting his jaw, Tracker scrambled onto a fallen tree branch that jutted out into the water. Placing himself squarely between the cat and his friends, Tracker stuck his thumbs in his ears and waggled his fingers.

"Nah, nah, Azrael!" he taunted. "Here, kitty! Can't catch me!"

"Tracker!" Hefty shouted, but Tracker waved for him to keep going.

"Here, Azrael!" the woodsmurf called. "Come and get me!"

Azrael narrowed his eyes and stepped up onto the branch. The branch rocked a little, but it held the cat's weight. Tracker backed away, further out over the rushing river.

Smurfette and Hefty watched from the cave's entrance, their hearts in their mouths as Tracker edged his way onto a thin, leafy twig. Azrael stalked slowly forward, tentatively placing one paw in front of the other. He held his tail straight and stiff, his sharp teeth bared in a cruel grimace.

"Mreah, mreah," he rumbled, and extended his claws.

Azrael was so close now, Tracker could smell the cat's stale breath.

Smurfette brought her hands to her mouth. "Oh…oh no… Oh, be careful, Tracker!"

Azrael's grimace broadened, and he risked a quick swipe. Tracker was ready. The woodsmurf jumped from the twig to a stone jutting out from the water. The stone was wet and slick and Tracker had to scrabble for purchase, but he managed to keep himself from falling into the river.

Azrael wasn't so lucky. As soon as Tracker jumped, the branch began to move. Azrael shrieked and yowled and tried to scramble back to the riverbank, but the branch rolled over, the wet leaves catching the cat right in the face and knocking him into the rapids. Azrael flailed and splashed, struggling to keep his head above water, but the heavy branch twisted and turned, holding him under the river's bubbling surface.

Hefty pulled Tracker through the waterfall into the cave.

"Whew," the burly Smurf said. "For a moment there, I was afraid you weren't gonna make it."

"For a moment there, so was I," Tracker said, and smiled. "That should teach old Azrael not to smurf with us for a while, eh?" He squeezed some water from his dripping feather, and scanned the riverbank. "Hey, where is Azrael? Did you Smurfs see if he smurfed out of the river?"

"No," Smurfette said. "I was too worried about you. But, I'm sure he… Oh… Oh, my Smurfness, what's that?"

Tracker and Hefty looked where she pointed. A sodden, brown form was floating slowly toward the surface of the water…and it wasn't moving.

"Oh no… It's Azrael!" Tracker gasped and started edging his way out of the cave. "Hurry, Smurfs—follow me!"

Hefty grabbed Tracker's arm and hauled him back into the cave. "Are you out of your Smurf, Tracker? You can't seriously expect us to help that monster!"

Tracker shook him off and glared. "Well, we can't very well stand here and let him drown, can we? Now, Azrael is too big for me to smurf to the river's edge on my own. I need your help, Hefty. Are you coming or not?"

"You're crazy! Azrael would smurf us as soon as look at us! And, if you think he'll be grateful-"

"He won't, Hefty," Smurfette said. "It's Azrael's nature to be cruel and mean. But, Tracker's right. We can't let him drown. Not if we can smurf something to help him."

Hefty pursed his lips, but he nodded. "I know, I know, you're right," he grumbled. "But that doesn't mean I have to like it."

Carefully, the Smurfs clambered back out of the cave and onto the slippery rocks. The current had buffeted Azrael's unconscious form between the rocks to a calm swell only a few feet from the safety of the riverbank.

"Come on, Hefty! Tally-ho!" Tracker whooped, and jumped into the water. "The current isn't so bad here! Smurfette, head for the riverbank. We'll need you to help us smurf Azrael out of the water."

Smurfette nodded, and cautiously made her way from one slippery stepping stone to the next. Hefty watched her for a moment, making sure she made it to the bank safely, then jumped into the water with Tracker.

"Brrrr! This water is freezing!"

"I know," Tracker shouted back, his voice barely audible over the roaring waterfall. "See if you can smurf his other paw!"

Working together, Hefty and Tracker managed to turn Azrael on his back and pull, push, tug, and yank him toward the shore. When they were near enough, Smurfette waded into the rushing water and helped them slide Azrael up the muddy bank.

"He's not breathing," Hefty gasped, leaning against the sodden cat and shivering with cold. "Tracker, is he breathing?"

Tracker climbed up onto Azrael's chest and pressed his ear to the cat's wet fur. "His heart's still beating," the woodsmurf called back through chattering teeth. "But I think the river water's smurfed into his lungs. Hold on—let me try something."

Scrambling to his feet, Tracker moved to the middle of Azrael's ribcage and started jumping up and down with all his might.

"Come on, Azrael," Tracker panted. "You can do it. Smurf a breath for me."

"Tracker, what are you—" Hefty started, but Smurfette shook her head.

"Come on, you stupid cat," Tracker growled, jumping for all he was worth. "Breathe!"

Azrael's chest gave a mighty heave, and then the cat began to hack up water. Tracker slipped off him and tumbled to the muddy ground. For a moment, he just lay there, dazed. Then, he looked up to see Azrael's cruel, yellow eyes glaring down at him.

"Tracker!" Smurfette shouted. "Oh, Tracker, look out!"

Tracker tried to stand up, but lost his footing on the muddy grass and fell hard on his side. For the briefest moment, he saw Azrael rising above him like a dripping mountain, teeth bared and claws out. Then, he felt those claws across his back, and he was flying through the air. Something hit him, something cold. An incredible pain exploded in his leg, and then everything went black.

"Tracker!" Smurfette shrieked. "Azrael, you horrible cat! How could you! Tracker just saved your life!"

But, Azrael didn't particularly care. He was wet, disoriented and angry, and as far as he was concerned, it was the Smurfs' fault he'd ended up in the freezing river to begin with. Crouching back on his haunches, Azrael sprang at Hefty and Smurfette, hoping to catch them both with one pounce. Hefty and Smurfette dashed away in different directions. Furious, Azrael gave chase.

"Quick, Smurfette," Hefty called. "Back to the caves!"

"But, Hefty," Smurfette cried. "What about Tracker?"

"Mraaaaahhrrrr!" Azrael yowled, his claws swiping the air mere centimeters from their backs.

Smurfette leapt for the slippery stepping stones, Hefty close at her heels. Azrael hesitated at the river's edge, apparently debating if it was wise to test his luck twice in one day.

A clap of thunder ultimately made his decision for him. Glaring up at the hazy, overcast sky, Azrael growled low in his throat, then turned and loped back into the forest, his crooked tail disappearing into the underbrush just as the first, fat raindrops began to fall.

Safe in the caves once more, Smurfette and Hefty stared out at the rushing, swirling, foaming river. The summer storm had come in fast and hard. Already, a harsh and heavy rain pelted the muddy shore, essentially trapping the little Smurfs behind the waterfall.

"Hefty, I don't see Tracker anywhere," Smurfette said. "You…you don't think…"

"I don't know, Smurfette," Hefty said, his voice hoarser than usual. "I hope not."

"Oh… Oh, boo hoo!" Smurfette sobbed. "Oh, poor Tracker! Oh, Hefty, what can we do?"

A hot tear spilled from Hefty's eye, and he wiped his nose on the back of his hand.

"I don't know Smurfette," he admitted. "I'm afraid there's nothing we can do until this unsmurfy storm calls it quits."

Smurfette shivered and sobbed. Her long hair hung in wet tendrils around her face, and her white dress was splattered with mud. Hefty didn't look much better, and his teeth were starting to chatter.

"There's one thing I do know," he said. "If we stay here in the open, we'll catch our smurfs of cold. I say we move away from this freezing waterfall and see where these caves take us. If we can find enough twigs and things, we could smurf a fire and dry off."

Smurfette nodded, but she didn't move. She just stood there, her puffy eyes searching through the rain for a Smurf that wasn't there. Hefty swallowed his tears, and gently reached out to her. Smurfette leaned into his shoulder and, together, the heartbroken Smurfs shuffled deeper into the caves.

To Be Continued...
[Eek!]
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 02-27-2012 11:39 AM:
 
6. Lost and Found

"Smurfing earthworms for Farmer. Smurfing earthworms for Farmer," Clumsy sang as he dropped another wriggly pink worm into his pail. Farmer was always in need of earthworms to help aerate the soil in his fields. Since Clumsy had been planning to go rock-hunting near the river anyway, he'd volunteered to help find him some. The hammering rain had slackened to a light sprinkle, and the ground around the River Smurf was just soft enough to bring the worms to the surface.

"Smurfing earthworms for Farmer. Smurfing earthworms for Farmer. Smurfing earthworms for— Oh, uh—hey! What's that!"

Something white stuck out from a pile of sticks and leaves that had collected along a bend in the river. Curious, Clumsy dropped his pail and clambered down to the water's edge.

"Gosh, that looks like a piece of cloth. I wonder if the river ran away with some Smurf's laundry…"

He leaned over and started pulling apart the clump of debris. As the sticks began to drift away in the current, Clumsy caught a glimpse of blue, and gasped.

"Oh gosh, oh no! That's not laundry! It's Tracker Smurf!"

Clumsy splashed into the water and grabbed Tracker under the arms, pulling him to the safety of the grassy riverbank and kneeling beside him.

"Oh no…his skin's so cold… Tracker! Uh, Tracker, can you hear me? Gosh, Tracker, you gotta wake up!"

Clumsy shook the unmoving Smurf by the shoulders until his teeth rattled. Slowly, ever so slowly, Tracker's eyelids began to flutter and he gave a low moan. Clumsy breathed a sigh of relief.

"Uh, gosh. Tracker, you're alive! But…uh, if you're here, then where's Smurfette and Hefty?"

Tracker moaned again, and fell back into unconsciousness. Clumsy scrambled to his feet and looked him over. Tracker's back was badly scratched. His blue skin was pale from all the time he'd spent in the cold water, and his left leg was bent at a strange angle. Clumsy leaned over and awkwardly gathered the unconscious Smurf up in a fireman's carry, holding his arms and hefting him over his shoulder. After a few false starts, Clumsy managed to figure out how to walk and keep his balance under his heavy load.

"Now, don't you worry, Tracker," he said. "I'm takin' you straight to Papa Smurf! He'll know just what to do to smurf you back up!"

*******

A cluster of worried Smurfs waited anxiously outside Tracker's house while Papa Smurf and Dabbler tended to the woodsmurf's wounds. The moment Papa Smurf opened the door, he was accosted with questions.

"So, uh, how is he, Papa Smurf?" Clumsy asked.

"Did Tracker say if Smurfette and Hefty are all right?"

"Is Tracker going to be OK, Papa Smurf?"

"Where are Smurfette and Hefty?"

Papa Smurf held up his hands, and the Smurfs quieted down.

"My little Smurfs," he said. "I'm afraid Tracker's wounds are very serious. His leg is broken, and the scratches on his back are very bad."

The Smurfs gasped.

"Oh, poor Tracker!"

"Did he say what happened, Papa Smurf?" Dreamy asked.

Papa Smurf shook his head. "He's still unconscious, but those scratches look very much like claw marks."

"Claw marks?"

"Oh no!"

"Could it be Azrael?"

"Oh dear," said Poet. "If Tracker was smurfed by Azrael, then Hefty and Smurfette could have been captured by Gargamel!"

Painter raised his fist. "If this is so, then we must rescue them, Papa Smurf!"

"Yeah! Just let me at 'em!" Tuffy Smurf exclaimed, unhooking his thumbs from his wide, black belt and punching the air like a boxer. "I'm not scared of Azrael! I'm not scared of anything!"

"Now, now, don't be hasty, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said. "We are all worried about Smurfette and Hefty, but we can't go smurfing to conclusions." He sighed and brought a hand to his temple. "I'm just glad I was able to contact Lyssandra. Fortunately, she was able to meet up with Brainy at Paradise Falls before all this happened, but for that very reason, she couldn't offer any clues as to what smurfed on after they left. All we know is that, wherever this attack took place, it can't have been too far from the river."

"Uh, Papa Smurf," Tailor said. "Tracker is our best woodsmurf. How are we going to retrace his steps and smurf for clues without his help?"

"That is a good question, Tailor. Nat!" Papa Smurf called out. A half-grown Smurfling with a big straw hat and bare feet ran out of the crowd.

"Yes, Papa Smurf?"

"Nat, I'm going to need your help if we're to find Hefty and Smurfette. We'll smurf into two search parties. Tailor, Painter, and Poet will go to Gargamel's to see if our missing Smurfs are there."

"Yes, Papa Smurf."

"Oui, Papa Smurf!"

"Nat and Tuffy, you will come with me to Paradise Falls, where we will try to retrace Tracker's steps. Our two parties will meet back up at the Great Oak in one hour. Is that understood?"

"Yes, Papa Smurf!" the Smurfs chorused.

"Very well, then," Papa Smurf said, and scanned his eyes over the gathered Smurfs. "With Brainy gone, I will rely on you, Dreamy, to keep an eye on things here. If Smurfette and Hefty show up while we're away, make sure they stay in the Village."

Dreamy snapped a sharp salute. "Aye aye, Papa Smurf!"

"Uh, what about me, Papa Smurf?" Clumsy asked. "I wanna help too!"

"Clumsy…" Papa Smurf seemed to think. "You can help by keeping an eye on Baby."

Clumsy straightened. "I won't let you down, Papa Smurf!"

"Does every Smurf understand what's expected?"

"Yes, Papa Smurf!" the Smurfs assured him.

"Then, let's get smurfing!"

*******

"Oh, Hefty, I'm so cold!"

"Me too, Smurfette," Hefty said, rubbing his arms in an attempt to warm up. "Who knew these caves were so huge?"

"And dark." Smurfette shivered. "Oh, I don't like it here. Not at all. We've smurfed such a long way…I can't even hear the waterfall anymore!"

"Don't worry, Smurfette," Hefty said. "You're with me. I won't let anything bad happen to you."

"Like you didn't let anything happen to Tracker?" Smurfette muttered.

Hefty took a step back, as if he'd been hit. Smurfette brought her hand to her mouth.

"Oh, Hefty! Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean that. It's just…I'm so frightened! What if we can't find our way out of these caves? And, what did happen to Tracker? If he…"

"Try not to think about it, Smurfette," Hefty said. "It's not like we can do anything for him in here. We can only hope he made it safely back home to the Village."

Smurfette sniffled and nodded, moving closer to Hefty. He put an arm around her shoulders and, together, they kept walking through the cold, dark tunnels. After a few meters, Smurfette raised her head and ran forward.

"Hefty!" she exclaimed. "Hefty, over here! I think I smurf daylight!"

"I think you're right, Smurfette!" Hefty said. Taking her hand, Hefty ran with Smurfette toward the warm and welcoming light. They burst out of the caves into a small, grassy valley overlooking the distant fields and spires of a large, human town.

"Where are we?" Smurfette said. "I don't recognize this place!"

"Neither do I," Hefty said. "But, I'll bet if we go down to that town, we'll be able to smurf where we are in no time. Once we know which kingdom we've smurfed to, it'll be an easy thing to smurf a friendly bird to smurf us back home."

"But, it's so far… And I'm so tired…" Smurfette sighed.

"Well, we don't have to smurf there right away," Hefty said. "Let's build a smurfy fire, and look around for something to eat. We can smurf to the human town when we're rested."

Smurfette nodded, and straightened her shoulders. "I think I see some berries on that bush down there. And there's a little stream! I can make us some smurfy cups out of this grass, and then I can use my hat to collect those berries."

"Sounds like a plan. I'll get smurfing on that fire," Hefty said, and the two of them got to work at once, preferring to be busy than to let their worries and fears take over.

To Be Continued…
[Smurfette] [Happy Smurf]
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 02-28-2012 12:38 AM:
 
Hi again! I hope you like this next chapter!

7. Trials and Transformations

"There's no sign of them over here, Papa Smurf," Nat Smurfling called. He had to shout to be heard over the roar of the swollen rapids. "The rain seems to have washed away all their footprints!"

"Then, how do you know they were even here at all?" Tuffy challenged.

"Mother Squirrel told me she saw a cat running from this direction just before the rain got bad," Nat said. "We know that Tracker was smurfed by a cat near the river. It makes sense that this would be the place where it happened."

"Yeah, maybe," Tuffy said. "But that still doesn't explain what happened to Hefty and Smurfette."

Papa Smurf climbed down from the cave entrance behind the waterfall, his beard and hat sprinkled with water droplets. Tuffy and Nat hurried to lend him a hand as he hopped from the slippery stepping stones to the muddy river bank.

"Did you find anything in there, Papa Smurf?" Nat asked anxiously.

"Not a thing," Papa Smurf said, and sighed. "But, that system of caves back there smurfs on for miles. If Smurfette and Hefty did go that way, there's no telling where they might come out."

"If they come out," Tuffy said. "Who's to say they're not trapped in there, lost or-"

"Knock it off, Tuffy," Nat said. "Can't you see Papa Smurf's upset enough already?"

Papa Smurf hung his head, as dejected as the two young Smurfs had ever seen him. Tuffy hooked his thumbs in his belt and lowered his eyes.

"Aw, I'm sorry, Papa Smurf," he said. "It's just, I can't stand all this not knowing! I need something real, something I can smurf with the old one-two!" He punched the air like a boxer.

Papa Smurf nodded. "I know, Tuffy, I know. We'd all like some real answers. Unfortunately, we're not going to learn much more by smurfing around here. Let's join the others by the Great Oak. If they, too, have nothing to report, our next step will be to enlist the aid of Feathers."

"That's a smurfy idea, Papa Smurf," Nat said. "Feathers could fly the whole length of those caves. If Smurfette and Hefty did make it out, we might be able to smurf them from the air!"

*******

"Papa Smurf! Papa Smurf!"

Tailor, Painter, and Poet ran out from behind the Great Oak as Papa Smurf approached with Tuffy and Nat.

"My little Smurfs!" Papa Smurf greeted them.

"We found nothing at Gargamel's, Papa Smurf," Painter reported. "Monsieur Gargamel, he was leaving his 'ome when we got there!"

"We think he went to the marketplace, Papa Smurf," Poet said. "I overheard him telling Azrael he needed a new pair of shoes. But, Hefty and Smurfette weren't with him, and his house was as cold and bare as a cave."

"Did you find anything, Papa Smurf?" Tailor asked.

"I'm afraid the rain washed away any evidence of what happened by the river," Papa Smurf reported sadly. "But, Smurfette and Hefty may have taken shelter in a system of caves nearby. Tomorrow morning, I intend to take Feathers and smurf the full length of those caves. We can only hope they'll be able to make it out safely, and smurf us some sign of where they've gone."

*******

Miranda Lott peered at the bustling market place through the flap of her tent.

"No one's coming, Simon," she said. "They never come in after the first day or so."

Her partner, a tall, gangly young man with a large beak of a nose, looked up from the large, wicker cage, where he'd been teasing a trio of rabbits. He wore the pointed hat and blue robes of a sorcerer, but they hung awkwardly on his lanky frame, as if they'd been tailored for someone else.

"Oh, they'll come," he said, petting one of the rabbits with his long finger. The rabbit made a soft noise, almost like a duck's quack. "Just give 'em some time."

Miranda turned on him, her colorful skirts swirling around her ankles. "I gave them some time, Simon. I gave them two weeks already! If we don't get some business soon, we're going to have to move on again, with nothing. No money, no food. Nothing!"

"Well, what do you want me to do?" Simon asked.

"Perform a spell, maybe? That's what I hired you for, isn't it? To perform a spell or two, to dazzle the crowds with your card tricks, to draw them in to marvel at our displays? But no. I'm promised a top-rate magician and I get an incompetent fraud. Story of my life!"

"Hey, don't blame me," Simon said in his bland, even monotone. That was one thing that truly infuriated Miranda. Nothing seemed to bother Simon, to get under his skin. He was always the same, and he never seemed to really care about anything—even his magic.

"I drew some crowds that first day," he said, sinking onto a rough, wooden chair. "It's the displays. No one pays to see pickled rooster eggs and quacking rabbits nowadays. They want something stranger, something more exciting."

"Yeah, and you would know all about exciting." Miranda rolled her dark eyes. "You're right, though. We need something different, unique. Something to capture the awe and imagination of our viewing public! But, what?"

Simon shrugged. "I don't know."

"Then think!" Miranda snapped. "Better yet, go out there and think—and while you're at it, go fetch us some supplies!"

The curly-haired young woman tipped his chair until he was forced to stand up, then pressed two copper coins into his palm. "This is the last of our savings. Don't waste it. Find us some cheap, filling food that will last. Understand me, Simon?"

"Sure, Miranda," the slouching sorcerer said, and ducked out of the tent to join the shouting, laughing, busy crowds.

"Idiot," Miranda grumbled, and plunked herself down in the chair.

"Quack!" said the rabbits. "Quack, quack!"

Miranda buried her face in her hands and sighed.

*******

"Oh, my-Hefty, have you ever smurfed anything like this place?" Smurfette asked.

"Well, I've been to human villages before, but never one so big. Or so crowded!" Hefty said, pulling Smurfette behind a fruit basket to avoid getting stepped on by a quartet of chatting women. "Hey, watch where you're smurfin'!" he called out, but his little voice was swallowed by the noisy crowds.

"Strawberries! Fresh strawberries! A penny a pint!" the fruit seller shouted out above them.

"Get your fresh fish! Straight off the boat this mornin'! Fresh fish here!"

"Gingerbread, cookies and sweets! Get your gingerbread, cookies and sweets!"

"My goodness!" Smurfette exclaimed. "Everyone's so busy! How are we ever going to find out where we are?"

"I don't think we're going to find out anything smurfing around here. Let's see if we can smurf someplace quieter," Hefty said.

The two Smurfs walked quickly, doing their best to keep close to the buildings, behind the bustling stalls and out from underfoot. Tantalizing smells drifted down to them from the many food carts and inns that lined the broad, cobblestone street. They passed stacks of colorful fabrics and handmade toys, barrels of pickled vegetables and salted fish. There was so much to see and smell and hear, the little Smurfs felt quite overwhelmed.

"Hey, look at that colorful tent up ahead," Hefty said. "I wonder what it's for."

"There's a banner...I can't quite make it out from here..." Smurfette crept cautiously further out into the street. "OH!"

"Smurfette!" Hefty cried, but as he ran toward her, he found it became harder and harder to move, until he stood frozen like a statue in the middle of the street. A dark shadow fell over him, and a large hand swept him high into the air.

"Well, this is interesting," said the hand's owner - a tall, gangly human in a worn, blue sorcerer's hat. "Two tiny blue people! You know, you little creatures could be just the thing Miranda and I have been looking for!"

It took only a few ground-eating strides for the tall human to reach the colorful tent and duck inside. A short young woman with dark, curly hair stood up as he entered.

"Well, Simon?" she demanded.

"Just a second, Miranda," he said. "Before you start, I want you to look at this."

He held out his hands to reveal Hefty and Smurfette. "I found them in the marketplace. What do you think?"

"Oh, Simon," the girl groaned. "Don't tell me you spent our last two coppers on these things. What are they, anyway? Dolls? Puppets?"

"Neither," Simon told her. "They're alive. And I didn't spend anything on them. I just found them, outside."

"Wait-" Miranda squinted. "What do you mean, alive?"

"I mean alive. As in, living creatures. I just froze them a little so I could catch them. The spell will wear off soon. Here, watch."

Simon placed the two frozen Smurfs in a deep wicker cage and snapped a heavy lock over the door latch. A few seconds later, Hefty found he could wiggle his fingers, then move his jaw.

Miranda gasped. "They moved!"

"Of course they moved," Simon said. "I told you they were alive."

"Simon, this is incredible! Little blue people. And they're alive! We can teach them tricks, make up a whole routine! People would come for miles to see something like that!"

"Oh no they won't!" Smurfette shouted. "We won't perform for you or for anyone else, so you might as well just let us go, right now!"

Miranda gave a little jump. "Gosh-Simon, they talk! This is even better than I hoped!"

"Yeah, we talk," Hefty said. "And we don't like being locked up!"

"If you don't let us go, Papa Smurf's going to come looking for us," Smurfette said. "We've already been gone so long, he's probably worried sick about us!"

Miranda looked at Simon, who thoughtfully rubbed his pointed chin.

"I think I can do something about that," he said after a moment. "Let me check my spell book."

"You don't need a spell book!" Hefty shouted. "Just undo the lock!"

But the humans didn't seem to be listening. They leaned over Simon's book, tracing their fingers over the various spells and incantations until they found the one they were looking for.

"Yeah, I could do that spell," Simon said, "but we don't have all the ingredients."

"So?" Miranda said. "You're a performer. Improvise!"

Simon shrugged, and started pulling a collection of small vials and bottles out of a sack and arranging them on the rough table that held the rabbit hutch. With a careless flick of his wrist, he dumped their contents into a wooden bowl, then gave the mixture a quick stir with his finger.

"Yep," he said, "that ought to do it."

"Ought to do what?" Hefty demanded.

"Oh... Oh dear... What are you going to do with that?" Smurfette asked nervously.

"Well, here's the thing," Simon said, sprinkling the glittering powder over their heads. "We need a new act for our show, or we're both going to starve. You two are going to be that new act. And this spell will make sure of it. Pallakallazooph!"

There was a puff of blueish smoke. When it cleared, two small, blue-gray monkeys stood where the two Smurfs had been.

"Monkeys?" Miranda wrinkled her nose. "They were supposed to be miniature horses!"

Simon shrugged. "You said to improvise. I did the best I could with what I had. Just be happy it worked."

"Hm... I guess blue monkeys aren't too bad," Miranda said. "Actually, they're kind of exotic, aren't they. And, at least, now, if someone does come looking for them, they won't find them. You hear that, little ones?" she said, crouching down to their eye level. "There's no rescue coming. You're ours now. And we're going to make you the biggest stars this lousy kingdom's ever seen!"

Hefty looked at Smurfette. Her wide, blue eyes were shiny with tears. Unable to speak, he held out a hand to her. She took it, and squeezed. They'd find a way out of this. Somehow...

To be continued...
[Eek!] [Smurfette]
 
Posted by Squeaky Smurf (Member # 2416) on 02-28-2012 03:53 PM:
 
Oh my... Poor Tracker! And Hefty and Smurfette too! [Eek!]
This is getting better and better! Smurfy and brilliant job, Rowena! [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Nurturer Smurf (Member # 4050) on 02-28-2012 04:00 PM:
 
blue monkeys! :-D
this is great, Rowena!
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 03-03-2012 06:26 AM:
 
Thank you, guys. [Happy Smurf]

8: Broken Promises

"So, Brainy Smurf," Lyssandra said. "What did you do that made your Papa Smurf so upset...and sent you out into the forest, alone?"

Brainy blinked up at her, caught off guard by the question.

It had been more than a month since he'd arrived at Lyssandra's home under the overgrown amphitheater and, in all that time, the elvish sorceress had never mentioned the circumstances that had brought Brainy to live with her.

Brainy took a sip of his breakfast tea to hide a flush of embarrassment.

"Uh, why...why are you asking about that now?"

"Because I've been thinking," Lyssandra said in that vague way she had, her face turned toward Brainy, but her sliver-pale eyes aimed elsewhere. "And I think you're ready for a new assignment."

Brainy perked up at once. "You mean, you're going to let me smurf a spell? Even after what happened last time, with the hydrosmurfic acid?"

Lyssandra's thin lips stretched into a small smile.

"What happened in Papa Smurf's lab, Brainy?"

Brainy averted his eyes from her pale stare.

"I...well..." he said. "Papa Smurf was smurfing a new batch of his special growth formula, and I thought if two drops of lava juice helped seeds to sprout quickly, then twelve drops would certainly make the process even quicker! Unfortunately, the mixture destabilized and...boom!" He lifted his arms to illustrate the explosion.

Lyssandra raised an eyebrow.

"Tell me, Brainy," she said. "What is lava juice?"

"Huh?"

"What is it?" Lyssandra repeated. "Where does it come from? How is it made? How does it react in an experiment, and why?"

Brainy looked a little helpless. "Well, I..."

"A good wizard understands his ingredients, Brainy Smurf," Lyssandra said. "Inside and out. He knows where they come from, how to prepare them, and the proper proportions to use in every spell. Even when he experiments, there is rarely any true guesswork involved. He uses a deep knowledge of magical properties and chemical interactions to test theories and answer questions. But, this knowledge does not come overnight. It must be learned gradually, step by step, starting with the raw basics.

"Brainy," she said, as serious as the young Smurf had ever seen her, "you must be very honest with me now. Are you willing to go back to the basics, even if it means reviewing information you think you already know? This means no shortcuts. Nothing like you tried in Papa Smurf's lab, or in mine. Everything must be done step by step, and each step must be duly recorded."

"Oh, I think I know better than to smurf shortcuts, Lyssandra" Brainy said.

"Really?" Lyssandra said.

Brainy opened his mouth. Then he met her eyes, and any shade of pomposity faded.

"When that hydrosmurfic acid destroyed my glasses, I was terrified you would throw me out, just like Papa Smurf did when I blew up his lab," he said, speaking with painful honesty. "After all, what use could a blind assistant possibly be to a sorceress as powerful as you? But you showed me I could still smurf my chores. Even if I couldn't see what I was smurfing with my eyes, I still had my hands, and my ears. All it took was a little time and patience to learn how to use them.

"Trust me, Lyssandra," he said, a little of his usual pretension trickling back into his voice. "If I could learn to make my bed and brew tea and bake cookies, and even read that special raised writing you showed me without my glasses, I can certainly learn to follow a spell step by step, even if I do know how it's supposed to smurf out in the end. I'm just grateful you were able to find a way to repair my glasses! After three weeks of near-total blindness, I can't begin to tell you what a relief it was to-"

"Yes, all right, Brainy!" Lyssandra interrupted. "I'll agree that you've come a long way these past weeks. It is a humbling thing to confront a handicap head-on. It can fill you with anger, frustration, even despair. But, under the circumstances, I must admit you handled yourself surprisingly well."

Brainy's chest puffed out with self-satisfaction.

"Well, this wasn't the first time I was forced to smurf around without my glasses, you know," he said. "Some years ago, when I was much younger, I accidentally lost my glasses in the cave of the Dark-Ness Monster, and Papa Smurf had to-"

Lyssandra closed her eyes and brought a hand to her temple.

"Brainy," she said. "Are you finished with the breakfast muffins?"

"What? Oh, yes. Thank you," Brainy said politely.

"Then, would you please clear away the dishes? I'll be waiting in my lab when you're finished."

"Certainly, Lyssandra!" Brainy said, already setting to work.

Lyssandra rose gracefully and left the table, tapping her stick ahead of her as she made her way to the door.

*******

Clumsy Smurf tumbled off Feathers' warm back and looked around.

"Gosh," he said, staring at the ancient, mossy ruin. "This place sure is big!"

"That it is, little Smurf."

Clumsy jumped at the unexpected voice.

"Uh...who's there?"

"You have come to see Brainy Smurf?"

"Uh, yep," Clumsy said. "Where are you? I-I don't see anyone here!"

There was a low, creaking sound and an opening appeared at the base of one of the gnarled trees in front of him.

"Come inside," the voice instructed. "I'll tell Brainy Smurf he has a visitor."

Clumsy started to move forward, then he paused.

"Well, uh," he said, "Papa Smurf always says we're not supposed to talk to strangers, or strange voices, and..."

There was a glimmer of light, and a slender elf materialized in front of him. Her hair was silver, like the moon, and her cloak shimmered darkly.

"Gosh," Clumsy said. "Are you Lyssandra?"

"I am," the sorceress said. "What is your name?"

"I'm Clumsy! Clumsy Smurf," Clumsy said. "Brainy's my best friend."

Lyssandra smiled.

"Well then, Clumsy Smurf," she said. "Now that we're no longer strangers, would you care to follow me to my home? I've just set Brainy an assignment, but I'm sure he'll be happy to spend some time with you."

Clumsy chuckled. "Uh, yeah. Sure!"

"It's this way," Lyssandra said, and glided ahead of him, her stick tapping lightly from root to root as, together, they made their way down the curving stairs to Lyssandra's subterranean home.

When they reached the end of a long corridor, Lyssandra used her stick to rap twice on a tall, wooden door, then opened it and swept inside.

"Brainy," she said. "A friend has come to see you."

Brainy's head poked up from behind a stack of books and notes, and his blue face lit up with delight.

"Clumsy!" he exclaimed, hopping down from his stool and rushing to greet his friend. "What are you doing here?

"Gosh, Brainy, that's a long story," Clumsy said. "What'cha doin' in here, anyway?"

"Lyssandra gave me a spell with a missing ingredient. I have to find out what all the other ingredients do before I can identify the missing ingredient and determine how much of it I need to smurf to get the spell to smurf right."

"Wow," Clumsy said. "Sounds complicated."

"Oh, it is," Brainy said smugly. "It takes an enormous amount of intelligence, patience and hard work to smurf a problem like this. But I, Brainy Smurf, am more than equal to the task. Isn't that right, Lyssandra?"

"We'll see," Lyssandra said, and winked at Clumsy. "Brainy, why don't you take your friend to the parlor? I'll be in the library if you need me."

"Yes, Lyssandra," Brainy said. "Come on, Clumsy. I'll show you around!"

*******

"So, how is everysmurf!" Brainy gushed eagerly once he and Clumsy had settled into the parlor with a plate of cookies and a jug of milk. "I'm sure it's been just terrible for them all, struggling to smurf along without me there to help and advise them. I can't even tell you how lonely I've been. Lyssandra's lab is truly amazing, but this place is so isolated. It's just me and Lyssandra, and no one else around for miles and miles. Lyssandra seems to like it but sometimes, Clumsy, I think I'll go smurfy without somesmurf to talk to!"

"Gosh, Brainy," Clumsy said. "If I'd known you felt that way, I'd have tried to smurf here sooner. Back at the Village, everysmurf thinks you're havin' a smurfy time!"

"Well, don't get me wrong, Clumsy," Brainy said. "I know this is the opportunity of a lifetime! But, I'm not cut out for this hermetic life, so far removed from civilization. I need company, Clumsy. Someone to talk to, to share ideas with... Someone I can be silly with. Someone, well...like you. I...I've missed you, Clumsy."

"Aw, Brainy. I've missed you, too," Clumsy said with a grin.

"So, why did you come here, Clumsy?" Brainy asked. "Was it just to visit me?"

Clumsy's smile faded.

"Uh, not really, Brainy," Clumsy said. "See, you're not the only Smurf that's been gone these past couple of months. Hefty and Smurfette have been gone too. Only, we don't know where they are!"

"What?"

Brainy leaned forward in his chair, his glasses magnifying his worried eyes.

"What do you mean, Clumsy? What's happened?"

Clumsy squirmed a little.

"Well, see, uh... The thing is, Brainy, when you ran away that day, Hefty, Smurfette, and Tracker followed to make sure you were safe. Only, after you went off with Lyssandra, somethin' happened to them. Somethin' terrible!"

"What? What happened?"

"They were smurfed by Azrael!" Clumsy told him. "Tracker got a broken leg an' fell in the river. He's OK now. But, Hefty and Smurfette smurfed into some caves and they must have got lost because no Smurf has seen or heard from them since!"

"No... Oh, no..."

"Papa Smurf's been goin' out on Feathers every day searching for them," Clumsy said. "Every day he comes back sadder an' sadder."

"But...but I've talked with Papa Smurf!" Brainy said. "We've used Lyssandra's magic mirror lots of times. Why didn't he tell me!"

"I guess because it's so important to him for you to finish your training with Lyssandra. He said a half-trained wizard's more dangerous than one with no training at all. He made us all promise not to tell you so you wouldn't go runnin' off to try searchin' for them. I sorta broke that promise comin' here. But Tracker and I both agreed, it's only right for you to know. So, I took Feathers and here I am!"

"I don't understand, Clumsy," Brainy squeaked in a small voice. "Why would Papa Smurf say something like that? Doesn't he trust me?"

"Uh, sure he does, Brainy," Clumsy said. "He just wants you to keep your promise to Lyssandra."

Brainy shook his head, his shoulders sagging.

"Oh, Clumsy! This is all my fault!" he said. "Hefty and Smurfette wouldn't be missing if I hadn't been so impatient that day. If I hadn't wrecked Papa Smurf's spell and run away like a guilty Smurfling, they'd be safe in the Village right now! Oh, you all must hate me!"

"No Smurf blames you, Brainy," Clumsy assured him. "We all think it's a good thing that you get to be Lyssandra's apprentice. It's not your fault this happened. If anything, it's Azrael's!"

"You can tell yourself that, Clumsy, but Azrael couldn't have smurfed them if I didn't run away first."

Brainy jumped to his feet and started to pace.

"Clumsy," he said. "I want you to come with me. You and Tracker, both. If we smurf together, we can find them in no time, I just know it!"

"But...but Brainy! You can't just leave... What about your promise to Lyssandra?"

Brainy pressed his lips together and tapped them with his fist.

"I did promise I would see this through..." he said. "And Papa Smurf always says it's wrong to break a promise. But, when I accepted this apprenticeship, Lyssandra told me I was free to leave at any time."

"Brainy..."

"Clumsy, trust me," Brainy said. "Once Hefty and Smurfette are safely back in the Village, I'll come back here and finish my apprenticeship. I know Lyssandra will understand."

"You really think so, Brainy?" Clumsy asked.

"Of course I-"

"Brainy?"

The two Smurfs looked up to see Lyssandra standing in the doorway.

"Did I hear you say you intend to break our agreement?"

"No, no, Lyssandra, I didn't mean it like that," Brainy said. "But, our friends are in trouble, and I have to help find them."

"It is extremely rare for an apprentice to return once the contract has been broken," she said, her voice strangely flat. "There is always another crisis, another problem to get in the way..."

"But I will come back!" Brainy said. "You know I will! It's just, right now-"

"There is only 'right now'. 'Later' is an illusion. Tomorrow never comes."

"Lyssandra..."

The sorceress shook her head sadly.

"You were a promising student, Brainy. I had hoped... But, if you must go, I understand. Just know this. If you leave now, before your training is complete, you will never become a true wizard in your own right. The choice is yours."

Brainy swallowed, his blue face pale and pinched. To Clumsy, it seemed as if something tore inside him, something deep and important. Slowly, Brainy raised his eyes and straightened his shoulders.

"I'm sorry, Lyssandra," he said. "But I have to go."

Lyssandra nodded.

"Then I will offer you what assistance I can," she said. "Follow me."

To be continued...
[Cool] [Happy Smurf]
 
Posted by Squeaky Smurf (Member # 2416) on 03-03-2012 01:21 PM:
 
Ah, such a dilemma for Brainy Smurf! But I'm sure he did the right choice. Brilliant chapter, Rowena!! [Graduate Smurf]
 
Posted by Smurfette (Member # 4140) on 03-03-2012 03:16 PM:
 
That's great, I also like the end of chapter 7! Thnaks Hefty!

Also AMAZING work, I agree with Squeaky on the fact that Brainy probably made the right choic!
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 03-03-2012 05:48 PM:
 
Thank you so much!!! [Big Grin] [Big Grin]

That was my last pre-written chapter for this story, but I've already started work on the next chapter. I'll try to find time to finish it this week, but I'm afraid I can't promise a speedy update. It really helps to know you're enjoying my story, though, and I really appreciate your encouraging comments! Thank you! [Big Grin] [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Nurturer Smurf (Member # 4050) on 03-11-2012 03:45 PM:
 
oh no!!! poor Brainy...what an awful position to be stuck in :-( i sure hope everything will work out for him.
 
Posted by Lazy Smurf (Member # 4138) on 03-14-2012 09:23 PM:
 
I always enjoy reading your stories Rowena.
Can't wait for chapter 8! [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Lazy Smurf (Member # 4138) on 03-14-2012 09:24 PM:
 
EXCITED!!!!!!!
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 11-24-2012 01:59 PM:
 
Hi Everysmurf! I know I haven't been around much lately - schoolwork's got me totally swamped! - but I did manage to finish a new chapter for this story. I hope you enjoy it! [Cool] [Big Grin]

9. Monkey Business

If Hefty and Smurfette really had been a pair of domesticated monkeys, they might have found life at Lott's Traveling Spectacular pretty enjoyable. Miranda and Simon gave them plenty to eat and drink - especially once their show's reputation began to take off - and, despite their constant bickering, the two humans were very protective of their little "pets." They never let curious spectators get too close to the stage, and they chased away any children who tried to prod and pull and poke the little creatures.

But, Hefty and Smurfette weren't domesticated monkeys. They were Smurfs, and they resented every moment of their captivity. Whenever they weren't on stage, getting oohs and aahs from the astonished villagers and townspeople who gathered in the tent every night, the pair kept themselves busy by silently plotting their escape.

They made it once, craftily snagging Simon's key while he slept in a chair beneath their cage. But, by then, the traveling show had moved at least a dozen times, and the poor Smurfs had no idea where they were. Simon found them about three hours after their escape, soaked with rain and huddled in the hollow of an old oak tree. The enchanted Smurfs had tried to run, but Simon cast his holding spell on them and carried them back to their cage, as stiff as a pair of statues.

After that, Simon was much more careful with the key, and he bulked up the spells on the cage and its locks. But, Smurfette and Hefty refused to resign themselves to their fate. Everywhere they went, at every human town and city and village, they made a habit of leaving scraps of food outside their cage to attract small wild animals – squirrels and birds and even rats and mice – hoping that somehow, some way, word would get back to Papa Smurf that they were still alive and that they needed his help.

Still, things looked pretty bleak for the pair when, some nine weeks into their captivity, Lott's Traveling Spectacular trundled its way into the kingdom of King Gerard. Simon and Miranda didn't know it, but the spell they'd cast on the Smurfs was driven by the new moon. Little by little, so gradually Hefty and Smurfette barely noticed, the captive Smurfs were succumbing to their enchantment. In two weeks, when the third new moon gave way to a slivered crescent, their Smurfy identities would fade completely. When that happened, they would become monkeys for real, with no memories of Papa Smurf or their friends in Smurf Village.

*******

The Smurf Village seemed different than Brainy remembered. No Smurf sang or whistled at his work. Every Smurf he and Clumsy passed walked with his head bowed and his feet shuffling in the dust.

"Clumsy, this is terrible," Brainy said. "How long have things been smurfing like this?"

"Almost three months, Brainy," Clumsy said. "Ever since Hefty and Smurfette disappeared, no Smurf's wanted to sing or dance or even smile. It's been a pretty miserable time, I can tell you."

"I can imagine," Brainy said. "Where is Papa Smurf?"

"He's out searching," a new voice spoke up. "He goes out every day at around this time. That's why I asked Clumsy to make sure he brought you here before sunset."

Brainy and Clumsy turned to see Tracker hobbling toward them. The adventurer's heavy cast had been replaced with a leg brace, but he still needed the support of a sturdy crutch.

"Tracker!" Brainy exclaimed, rushing to greet the wounded Smurf. "Clumsy told me what happened. I'm so sorry - I had no idea Azrael was - "

"No need to smurf apologies, Brainy," Tracker said. "None of this is your fault."

"But it is," Brainy said, his expression wretched behind his glasses. "If I hadn't been so arrogant-"

"You wouldn't have been Brainy," Tracker teased and laughed at the look on the Smurf's face. "Look, there's no point smurfing blame. Especially not now, when time is so short."

"What do you mean?" Brainy asked.

"Papa Smurf will return soon," Tracker said. "By that time, though, our little search party will be long gone. Smurfs!" he called.

Tuffy and Nat stepped out into the open, laden with sacks and bundles of provisions.

"We've been planning for this smurfpedition for a long time, Brainy," Tuffy said. "Many others wanted to come, but if too many of us disappeared, Papa Smurf would get suspicious too soon, and we can't afford that."

"But, I don't understand. Why are you smurfing all this in secret?" Brainy asked.

"It's like I told you, Brainy," Clumsy said. "Things have changed here, and not for the better. Papa Smurf's been gettin' stricter an' stricter with his rules."

"It's true," Nat said. "Some Smurfs have even been jailed for staying out at night after Papa Smurf called curfew. To smurf as an example to the rest of us."

"Jailed!" Brainy exclaimed. "That doesn't sound like Papa Smurf."

"You wouldn't say that if you'd heard him screaming at Handy," Tuffy said. "Poor Smurf went down to the mouth of the River Smurf to visit his friend Marina, but forgot to smurf where he was going in Papa Smurf's log book. Papa Smurf dragged him home and smurfed him out right in front of everysmurf!"

"Papa Smurf wants to protect us," Tracker said. "But he's gone too far. All his rules and curfews have smurfed our happy Village into a miserable cage! The only way to smurf things right again is for us to find Smurfette and Hefty and smurf them back home where they belong."

"Here, here!" the search party cheered, and Tracker gallantly doffed his feathered cap.

"But," Brainy said, breaking into the cheers. "But, what if we can't find them? If Papa Smurf's been going out every day and he hasn't found them yet, there has to be a reason. And they've been gone so long, that reason can't be very smurfy."

"We think so too," Nat said. "Something terribly unsmurfy must have happened them or Papa Smurf or one of my animal friends surely would have found their trail by now."

"We think they've been captured," Tuffy said. "But not by any of the usual suspects. We've been to Gargamel's and Hogatha's time and time again, but no sign of them has ever smurfed up."

"That's why we plan to smurf back to the beginning," Tracker said. "Back to the caves where I left Hefty and Smurfette on that terrible, terrible day. Papa Smurf has utterly refused to let me go, but I feel my leg is strong enough to travel. So, what do you say, Brainy? Will you smurf with us?"

"You have to ask?" Brainy exclaimed. "I broke my promise to Lyssandra, left my apprenticeship... My selfishness smurfed you all into this trouble. That makes it my responsibility to do what I can to smurf things right."

"Hm," Nat grunted, crossing his arms over his smurferalls. "That old elf Lyssandra must be a truly amazing teacher."

"What do you mean, Nat?" Clumsy asked the young Smurf.

Nat smirked.

"Seems she smurfed the impossible, an' actually smurfed Brainy some genuine humility."

Tuffy and Nat giggled. Brainy turned beet red.

"Hey!" he said. "I didn't come all this way to stand here and be insulted by an upstart little smurfling!"

"You can sit if you want," Tuffy said, and the pair giggled harder.

Brainy's eyes widened, but before he could retort, Tracker clapped a hand on the spectacled Smurf's shoulder.

"I know we can smurf on you, Brainy," Tracker said, looking him in the eye so the embarrassed Smurf would see he was serious. "If Smurfette and Hefty really have been captured, we're going to need a wizard along to help out."

"Oh, but I'm not a wizard," Brainy said. "I'm not even an apprentice since I left Lyssandra."

"You've been studying magic, haven't you?" Tuffy challenged. "Smurfing spells and enchantments?"

"Well, yes, but-"

"Then that's good enough for us," Tuffy said. "Come on, Smurfs! Let's get smurfing while the sun's still high."

To be continued...
 
Posted by Squeaky Smurf (Member # 2416) on 11-24-2012 03:37 PM:
 
Very great chapter, Rowena!! It made me wonder about what should come by now, since everything seems to get in Brauny's (our hero) hands!! [Cool]
 
Posted by Oakley Smurf (Member # 2823) on 11-25-2012 06:49 AM:
 
Woah,what am I doing?
Just like you Rowena it's been nothing but golf and studying,very busy and tired.
But yeah I'm still looking for my new method in writing so I think your style are really spot on so I think I'm going to copy your writing style if you don't mind...can I?
So now my fanfic can finally come out of the gate.
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 11-25-2012 02:48 PM:
 
Thank you guys! I'm so happy you liked it!

I'd be honored if you wanted to use my writing as a model, Oakley Smurf.

Thanks again! Until next time!! (I'll try not to be quite so long...) [Big Grin] [Cool]
 
Posted by Amy Sue Smurfette (Member # 4050) on 11-26-2012 07:19 AM:
 
i had actually forgotten what was happening, but this refreshed me. i sure hope just for your sake that you get a nice break over the holidays. seems like you don't get much of one ever.
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 11-26-2012 01:50 PM:
 
You're not kidding! I'm actually on my way to London tomorrow for a big conference and then when I come back I have to give a presentation and finish writing out a chapter draft for my dissertation before flying home for Christmas. And while I'm home I have to go on a research trip to NYC and Pennsylvania and write all that up before flying back to the UK for another research trip to Cambridge before the Spring semester starts up! Still, I'd rather be too busy doing stuff I enjoy than have nothing at all to do. And when things do start to lag, I've got my stories and my dolls to make! LOL!! [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Amy Sue Smurfette (Member # 4050) on 11-27-2012 11:25 AM:
 
true, it is important to be doing what we love.
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 09-21-2013 08:16 AM:
 
Hi again, Everysmurf! Here's a little update for this story. Hope you enjoy it. [Big Grin]

10. A Lead At Last

"I recommend we stop here for now," Tracker said, limping back from his look-out position to where the little search party stood, well concealed from the nearby dirt path by a crumbling stone wall, all overgrown with grass and briars.

"But we're only half an hour's smurf from the city," Tuffy protested.

"Precisely why we should stop now and smurf for dark," Tracker said, resting his crutch against a scraggly little tree before lowering himself to the grassy ground. "There are far too many humans smurfin' about down there for my comfort."

"But, the sun won't smurf down for hours and hours!" Tuffy said. "If we stop here we'll be wasting time!"

"We've been smurfing a cold trail for nearly a week, Tuffy," Nat said. "I don't think a few hours will make much difference. Besides, it'll smurf me a chance to smurf some more information from the local animals."

Tuffy straightened his thick belt.

"Hmph," he grunted. "I'm not scared of any humans, no matter how many there are. I'm not scared of anything!"

"Then you won't mind smurfing us some firewood," Tracker said. "After all, if we're going to be staying here for a while, we might as well smurf ourselves some lunch!"

*******

About an hour later, Tracker, Tuffy, Brainy and Clumsy were sitting around a small campfire taking turns stirring the contents of their stew pot when Nat ran up to them, followed by a sleek, brown mouse.

"Smurfs!" the young Smurf gasped, leaning his hands on his knees as he fought to catch his breath. "I think this mouse can tell us what happened to Smurfette and Hefty!"

The mouse sat on its haunches and began chittering. Nat listened carefully and chittered back every now and then.

"Not everysmurf speaks fluent Fieldmouse, you know," Brainy said, annoyed that he couldn't understand their conversation.

Nat listened for a moment longer, then turned to his friends.

"Mr. Mouse says he's not sure he can help us, but he did see something strange."

"Strange how?" Tuffy asked.

"Mr. Mouse says there are two small bluish creatures being held in a cage down there in King Gerard's capital city," Nat told him. "He saw them last night. They left food scraps outside their cage for the local animals to come get after dark."

"These bluish creatures," Brainy said, striding up to the mouse. "Did they look like us? Like Smurfs?"

The mouse shook his head and chittered to Nat.

"He says they were furry, grayer in color, and they had long tails," the young Smurf translated.

The Smurfs shared a worried look.

"An enchantment, perhaps?" Tracker asked.

"It could be," Brainy said, and thoughtfully stroked his chin.

"Well, it's our best lead yet," Tuffy said, boxing the air. Nat and the mouse backed out of his way. "I say we get this mouse to smurf us there so we can smurf those creatures for oursmurfs!"

"I agree," Tracker said. "But not yet. It would be better to smurf for dark. Then, we can sneak in with the local animals."

Nat chittered to the fieldmouse, who seemed to agree with Tracker. Inviting the little mouse to share their meal, the group settled in for a long and anxious wait.

To Be Continued...
[Cool]
 
Posted by Sassette (Member # 2) on 09-21-2013 10:11 AM:
 
"Not everysmurf speaks fluent Fieldmouse, you know," LOL! This is getting more and more exciting... can't wait to read what happens next!

[Big Grin]
 
Posted by thatonesmurfx103.9 (Member # 4917) on 09-21-2013 11:35 AM:
 
Awesome story!!! get's more exiting, Can't wait for what happens next, Rowena
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 11-23-2013 03:40 PM:
 
Hi again! Thanks a lot for your feedback and for your patience with my slow updates. I really appreciate it. Here's brand new update to keep this story moving. Hope you enjoy it! [Big Grin]

11. What Lies Beneath

The wind blew cold and the stars shone brightly as the Smurfs followed the little fieldmouse through the straw-strewn streets toward a looming canvas tent. Triangular flags flapped above them, creating moving shadows that flitted across their path like ghosts.

Tuffy jumped and boxed at the shadows, putting on a show of bravado that left Tracker shaking his head.

"Smurf down over there," he hissed. "We don't want to wake up any humans who might be inside."

The mouse chittered softly and indicated a small tear at the bottom of the tent. He slipped through, followed by Nat, then Brainy, Clumsy, Tuffy, and finally Tracker, who managed to hobble through by bending low and extending his injured leg straight out.

"Ow…" he groaned quietly as Brainy and Nat helped him straighten back up. At their concerned looks, he said, "Don't worry, I'm just smurfy."

The two Smurfs shared an unconvinced glance, but turned their gaze to their surroundings.

It was very dark inside the tent – almost too dark to see. The mouse motioned toward a large wicker cage hanging over a long, wooden table, then scampered up the table's leg, waving for the Smurfs to join him at the top. Nat offered Tracker a supportive arm, but he waved the younger Smurf away saying, "You smurf ahead. I'll stay down here and smurf a look-out."

The tabletop was a cluttered mess of dirty dishes, mixing bowls, stacks of books, scattered pamphlets, and unlabeled vials. Clumsy wrinkled his nose as they passed by a particularly stinky plate of half-eaten fish and bread scraps, only to jump in alarm at a sudden movement from the cage above.

The mouse squeaked and pointed excitedly to the cage. The Smurfs shared a nervous look, hardly daring to hope…

"Smurfette?" Brainy whispered. "Hefty? Are you up there?"

There was a flurry of motion, and two pairs of arms appeared through the slats in the cage, waving desperately.

"Uh, is it them?" Clumsy asked. "I can't tell in the dark."

"Neither can I," Brainy said, squinting through his glasses.

"Why don't they say something?" Tuffy demanded impatiently. "Come on, you Smurfs," he called up in a hoarse whisper. "Is it you or not?"

The waving became more frantic, making the cage rock and swing.

"I think it's them," Nat said.

"Then, why don't they talk?" Tuffy asked.

"How should I know," Nat retorted. "Maybe they're tied up, or gagged."

"Or enchanted," Brainy said, sniffing at a few of the nearest of the uncorked vials. "I know these powders. Lyssandra kept a lot of these chemicals in her lab, only hers were all carefully labeled and stored. I know, because I was the one who had to grind the ingredients and smurf the labels!"

"Gosh, Brainy, you might be right," Clumsy said. "If Smurfette and Hefty got enchanted, that could explain why Papa Smurf couldn't find them all this time!"

The shadowy arms waved even more frantically than before, as if confirming Clumsy's guess.

"Well, I for one think it's them," Nat repeated.

"Maybe," Tuffy said suspiciously. "But how can we be sure if they won't talk?"

"Does it matter?" Nat asked. "They're living beings and, whoever they are, they sure don't seem happy being stuck in that cage. If they've been kept prisoner here, I say it's our smurfy duty to set them free!"

Nat scurried to a small stack of books and pressed all his weight against them.

"Come on, Smurfs, smurf me a hand," he grunted.

Realizing what he was trying to do, Tuffy, Clumsy, and Brainy rushed to help, pushing and stacking books until they were high enough for Tuffy to make the jump from the top of the stack to the bottom of the cage. He swung there precariously for a moment, then shifted his grip on the wicker strips and climbed up the side of the cage until he found the door.

"It's locked!" he hissed down to the others.

"Huh," Clumsy said. "Then, let's look around. Maybe there's a key."

"No, there's no hole for a key," Tuffy said. "The lock's a sort of metal clip, and it won't budge!"

"Then, we'll have to lower the cage," Brainy said.

"How?" Tuffy called down, still keeping his voice low.

"The rope!" Tracker hissed up from the floor. "The cage is smurfed on a hook with a rope! I think it's tied down here, near the bookcase!"

"Can you smurf the knot, Tracker?" Nat asked, leaning over the edge of the table.

"I can smurf the knot, but I can't lower the cage," Tracker reported. "Not with this bum leg."

"Tuffy, can you climb down and smurf him a hand?" Brainy asked.

"I'll help too," Nat said.

It took less than two minutes for the Smurfs to untie the rope and carefully, quietly lower the heavy wicker cage to the table. Tuffy and Nat climbed back up to join the others.

Clumsy stood on tiptoe to peer through the wicker slats. He was met by two pairs of big, bright eyes staring back at him.

"Whoa," he yelped, and backed away.

"What is it, Clumsy?" Brainy asked. "What did you see?"

"I...I don't know, Brainy," he said. "They're blue, all right, but they're not Smurfs."

"How do you know?" Nat asked.

"Well, gosh," Clumsy said. "They're all furry!"

A soft hooting protest sounded from the cage, and whoever was inside banged at the locked door.

Nat crept closer.

"He's right," the young Smurf said. "I've been all over the forest, and I've never seen creatures like these. They must have been taken from a very far away land."

The creatures hooted louder and slammed their fists against the wicker. Nat frowned.

"Wait..." he said. "Say that again?"

Nat listened closely to the creatures' strange sounds. He seemed to copy the sounds, then listened again and, after a few exchanges, his eyes opened wide.

"Great Smurfs, Brainy," he said, "you were right! It's them, it's really them! They've been enchanted by a human wizard named Simon who works for a girl named Miranda Lott. She's the one who owns this traveling show."

"We've gotta smurf 'em out!" Tuffy exclaimed. "Lemme at that lock!"

"Wait!" Brainy said. "If Smurfette and Hefty have been enchanted, it's likely the lock's enchanted too. Smurf around at these books. If we can find the spells he used, we can look up the spells to undo them."

The enchanted Smurfs hooted again and Nat's frown grew.

"Oh no," he said.

"Uh, what's wrong?" Clumsy asked.

"Well," Nat said, "it seems this Simon guy doesn't smurf his spells by the book. He'll look something up and, if he doesn't have the ingredients, he'll throw in anything he's got. That's how Smurfette and Hefty ended up like this in the first place! According to them, Simon had wanted to smurf them into miniature horses. He smurfed them into monkeys by accident!"

Brainy looked positively dismayed, but he said, "That horse spell... Do they know which book it's in?"

Nat listened for a few seconds then said, "It's a big one. Blue and red."

"It's over here!" Tuffy said from the far end of the table.

The Smurfs worked together to pry open the overlarge book and flip through to the index, then to the page the spell was on. As Brainy started to read it through, his face went from dismayed to horrified, but before he could say anything the Smurfs heard a rustling sound...then human voices.

"Miranda and Simon!" Nat hissed. "They're awake!"

"Quick," Brainy said to Clumsy, "help me tear out this page! Tuffy, Nat, see if you can find something to cut that cage open! We've got to smurf them out of here before those humans find us, or we could end up in the same trap!"

"Nat, smurf me a hand with this junk," Tuffy said, digging through the mess on the table. "I know I saw a knife by this plate. It might be sharp enough to smurf that wicker!"

Brainy and Clumsy finished with the page and worked together to close the book, then cover it with another. Brainy rolled the unwieldy paper into a tight scroll while Clumsy rushed to help Nat and Tuffy cut a hole in the cage.

"Got it!" Tuffy exclaimed, tearing the woven pieces away.

Smurfette and Hefty squeezed out through the narrow hole and hugged them all with their long, furry arms.

The human voices grew louder, closer. Tracker rushed to the tent flap.

"They're coming!" he called.

"We've got to go, now," Brainy said, and led the way down the table leg to join Tracker and the little mouse.

"We smurfed a trip-rope across the entrance," Tracker said with a nod to the mouse. "It might smurf us a few minutes to get out of sight."

"Smurfy thinking, Tracker," Brainy said, and helped the injured Smurf crawl back through the rip in the canvas.

"Mr. Mouse will lead us back to that clearing at the edge of town," Nat said as the little group rushed across the cobblestones, "but then he's got to smurf home to his family. I-"

There was a low yelp, then a high pitched scream, followed by a loud, clattering crash. A moment later, two human voices started yelling they'd been robbed.

The Smurfs shared a quick grin, then scurried into the shadows. They'd managed to achieve half their mission - they'd found and rescued Smurfette and Hefty. Now, they needed to find a way to lift their enchantment...a task Brainy feared would be a lot harder than the other Smurfs suspected.

Brainy's few months of training with Lyssandra had not prepared him for this. The spell he clutched in his hands was advanced magic. Very advanced magic. And, if Nat was right, it was full of substitutions - a mixture of unknown ingredients in unknown proportions. To make matters worse, if what little he'd managed to read was right, the spell was on a time-limit. If he couldn't find a way to reverse the enchantment before the rise of the crescent moon, Smurfette and Hefty would be doomed to live the rest of their lives as monkeys.

It was more than he could handle. He could feel that in his gut. But, the other Smurfs were depending on him.

Smurfette and Hefty were depending on him.

Three months ago, Brainy would have swallowed his doubts and blustered ahead, allowing his pride to take the lead, but now...

He needed help. He needed Lyssandra's help. But, her home was days away on foot. Days Smurfette and Hefty didn't have.

Brainy swallowed hard, but couldn't hold back a cold shudder.

Never in his life had he felt so alone.

To Be Continued...
[Cool]
 
Posted by Greedette smurfette (Member # 4086) on 11-23-2013 04:34 PM:
 
Awesome work on the story! I wonder what's going to happen 😁
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 03-03-2014 08:13 PM:
 
Sorry for taking so long with the updates, but I hope you like this next part! Thanks for reading!! [Smile]

12: Fireside Reflections

The Smurfs' campfire had burned down to glowing embers, but Brainy still couldn't sleep. He'd tried everything from reciting quotations to mentally counting the books in his library yet, hour after hour, sleep stubbornly refused to come.

Finally, he gave up. Throwing off the leaf he'd claimed for a blanket, he put on his glasses and stalked over to sit in a hunch by what was left of the fire.

The others were spread out around him, a ring of contentedly slumbering adventurers all dreaming of their happy homecoming. A happy homecoming that depended on him, Brainy Smurf, figuring out a way to break Simon's spell before the rise of the crescent moon.

Brainy burrowed his face in his hands and moaned.

A rustle of leaves announced the presence of another Smurf beside him. Brainy tensed, bracing himself for one of Clumsy's well-meaning pep talks. It was downright uncanny how that Smurf could always smurf when Brainy was in his darkest moods…not to mention irritating…

"Too excited to sleep?" Tracker asked, easing his bad leg into a sitting position with a soft grunt of effort. "Me too. Thought I'd stoke the fire for a while. Wouldn't want to be caught in the woods without a nice fire to warn off predators, what?"

Brainy looked up in surprise.

"Tracker?"

"Sorry, am I disturbing you? I can smurf over—"

"No, no, you can stay," Brainy said, and looked down at the gravely ground – posed like the poster-Smurf for abject misery.

"Right-oh," Tracker said, and busied himself with the fire, gathering up twigs and poking at the embers with a long, thick stick.

Brainy watched this for as long as he could stand, then heaved his deepest, most dejected sigh - the kind that never failed to stir Clumsy's concern and sympathy.

Tracker kept stacking kindling, as if he hadn't heard.

Brainy sighed again, louder.

When Tracker took no notice, he scooted nearer the adventure Smurf, clutched his head in his hands, and moaned.

"Headache?" Tracker asked, his attention still on the fire. "Come sit over here, out of the smoke."

Brainy grit his teeth. Tracker's apparent indifference was only increasing his desperation to be heard.

"My head's not the problem," he blurted. "Or, maybe it is. Tracker…can I tell you something? Something important?"

"Sure thing," Tracker said, sitting back from the crackling flames to give Brainy his full attention. "What's the trouble, old bean?"

Brainy winced at the 'old bean,' but decided now wasn't the time to comment.

"I…I haven't told you Smurfs much about my time with Lyssandra…" he started.

"Well, we haven't really had much time for stories this trip, have we," Tracker said.

"No… But, this isn't a story," Brainy said miserably. "Tracker… I…I'm not the wizard you think I am. The spell that's transformed Smurfette and Hefty… That's advanced magic. Really advanced. And…I just don't think I can smurf it. At least, not until I've had a chance to study. The problem is, that would take more time than Smurfette and Hefty have."

Tracker raised his eyebrows until they vanished under his feathered hat.

Brainy scowled.

"What's that look for?"

"Nothing," Tracker said. "It's just, the Brainy I know would never have admitted he wasn't up to the task. Not until he'd already fouled things up, anyway."

"Tracker, I'm not smurfing around here!" Brainy hissed through his teeth, his eyes darting to the Smurfs slumbering behind them. "This spell is on a time limit – a tight one. I've smurfed half the night trying to think through this problem from every possible angle, and there's just no way I can smurf this spell before time runs out. The fact is, we've only hours left to smurf a difference and, if we miss this window, Hefty and Smurfette will be stuck as monkeys for the rest of their lives!"

Tracker looked jolted.

"That's bad," he said.

"No smurfin'," Brainy grunted.

Tracker straightened.

"All right," he said. "If you can't smurf the spell, there must be someone around who can. Novice or no, you're not the only wizard in this forest, what? Why don't we track down that Elf friend of yours – Lyssandra! She'd help us, wouldn't she?"

"That's a good question," Brainy said glumly, "after the way I left her… But no, I'm sure she'd help once she understood the trouble we're in. But, how could we possibly smurf Hefty and Smurfette to her lab in time? Her home is days away from here on foot!"

"Who says we have to smurf to her place on foot?" Tracker retorted. "I recall observing this one bit of magic, down by the waterfall back when this whole mess began. Lyssandra stepped through a rippling portal she smurfed right in the air. Do you know that trick?"

"Of course," Brainy huffed. "That's just basic translocation. But it's no good. I'd need a mirror, or at least a reflective pool, and we don't even have a cup of water in this camp. Just canteens."

Tracker gave him a significant look.

Brainy frowned, not understanding.

Tracker looked harder, straight into his eyes.

Brainy blinked and leaned away.

"What?" he demanded. "Why are you staring at me like that?"

Tracker rolled his eyes.

"Brainy," he said, "You might not realize it, but in the dark your glasses reflect these campfire flames just like a pair of mirrors."

Brainy's jaw dropped, and he snapped his fingers.

"That's it! My glasses!" he exclaimed. "It's so simple, why didn't I think of it before? Tracker – the lenses of my glasses can smurf as the reflective surface I need to smurf the translocation spell! We could all be in Lyssandra's study in minutes!" He chuckled at his own brilliance. "Sometimes my intelligence astounds even me."

"It's not your intelligence I find astounding…" Tracker muttered under his breath, but Brainy was too caught up in his enthusiasm to notice.

Quickly, the spectacled Smurf rattled of a list of ingredients he needed from the forest. Tracker limped off to wake up Nat and Tuffy while Brainy sifted through his pack for a sheet of paper, some ink, and a quill. By the time the little search party returned, Brainy was pretty confident that the words he'd scribbled down were the words he needed to open the portal to Lyssandra's study. What he wasn't quite so sure of was the order…

"Shouldn't we wake up the others?" Tuffy asked, yawning into his hand.

"We should definitely smurf out the fire before we go," Nat said. "It's not smurfy to leave a campfire burning – the sparks could smurf a forest fire!"

"Quite right, lads," Tracker said. "Nat, smurf some dirt on that fire. Tuffy, get the others up and packed. Brainy, how's that translocation spell coming?"

"It's not easy to smurf a spell like this when I have to keep taking off my glasses to make it work," Brainy griped. "I can't see the reflections my glasses are reflecting!"

"Uh, gosh! Can I help, Brainy?" Clumsy offered, shrugging on his pack and loping to his friend's side.

Brainy brightened significantly at the sound of his best friend's voice.

"Clumsy! Just the Smurf I was hoping to hear! Smurf over here and smurf my glasses just the way I tell you."

By this time, the whole group had assembled around Brainy, yawning and stretching. Smurfette and Hefty, unable to talk, shared anxious glances with their friends as Brainy raised his arms and intoned the strange-sounding verse he'd been struggling so hard to remember.

"What language is that, do you think?" Tuffy asked.

"Some kind of ancient Elfish would be my guess," Nat said. "Whoa—Tuffy, smurf out!"

The young Smurf pulled his friend back just in time to keep him from tumbling straight into the rippling tear Brainy had caused to appear in the air between them.

"Way to go, Brainy! You've done it!" Tracker cheered.

"Naturally," Brainy preened, more relieved it had worked than he'd ever care to admit. "It's like I said: basic translocation."

"Yeah…but where's it go?" Tuffy asked, circling the tear suspiciously. "I mean, I wouldn't want to smurf through that weird hole just to smurf up in Gargamel's hovel…or some worse place!"

Brainy replaced his glasses on his nose and turned a haughty glare on Tuffy.

"The portal doesn't 'go' anywhere," he said. "To make it work, you have to think of the place where you most want to be. You smurf through and - poof! - you're there."

"How's that supposed to work!" Tuffy squeaked. "Except for you and Clumsy, none of us has ever smurfed to Lyssandra's lab!"

"I'll do the thinking," Brainy said. "We'll all smurf through the portal together. Come on, let's join hands."

Tuffy still looked uncertain, but Nat gave him an encouraging shove and the pair of them linked hands with the rest of the group.

Brainy took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and concentrated as hard as he could on picturing Lyssandra's sprawling home, hidden under the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheater.

"Here goes everything..." he whispered, and stepped through the rippling portal.

To Be Continued...
[Cool]
 
Posted by Squeaky Smurf (Member # 2416) on 03-05-2014 11:56 AM:
 
How smurfy to see Smurfette and Hefty were rescued, and that Brainy took courage to ask for Lysandra's help! Congrats, Rowena, your story is getting better and better! [Big Grin] [Big Grin] [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Sassette (Member # 2) on 03-06-2014 08:12 AM:
 
This is a great story and very well written... as Squeaky said, it just keeps getting better and better!!!
[Happy Smurf]
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 01-04-2015 09:45 PM:
 
Sorry for taking so long with the updates. Hope you like this next chapter!! [Cool]

13: Working Backwards

"What do you mean, you let them go! How could you just let them leave like that?"

Lyssandra sat back in her worn, wooden chair, her gnarled walking stick resting across her lap.

"It was Brainy Smurf's decision to make," she said. "He is old enough and capable enough to handle the repercussions."

"Capable!" Papa Smurf paced Lyssandra's library, stalking from her reading table to the large mirror on the far wall and back again. "I trusted you to smurf out for him, and you promised you would keep him safe—"

"Safety, as you mean it, is no more than an ideal – an illusion," the old Elf said. "I promised I would teach him, as I once taught you, young Smurf. It is now up to him to apply what little he has learned to the problems ahead."

For a moment, Papa Smurf looked like he was about to blow his stack. Then, slowly, he let out the breath he'd been holding and folded his tense form into the chair across from Lyssandra's.

"Oh, Lyssandra," he sighed. "I don't know what to do. Everything has been falling apart. The Smurfs won't listen to me anymore! Smurfette and Hefty have been gone so long… And now I find Brainy has abandoned his apprenticeship and disappeared along with Tracker, Clumsy, Tuffy, and Nat. Why would they do this, Lyssandra? Why would they smurf something so dangerous, so irresponsible – especially Tracker, with that broken leg…!"

"Sounded to me like they wanted to find their friends," Lyssandra said.

"By defying my orders?" Papa Smurf snapped. "I told those Smurfs to stay in the Village, where I could keep an eye on them! And, as for Brainy—"

"These are not infant Smurflings, dependent on your watchful care to keep out of mischief," Lyssandra said. "The Smurfs I met here were intelligent, empathetic individuals. Brainy and Clumsy both walked out with their eyes wide open to the dangers of the wider world, and the consequences of leaving their home with you."

"Lyssandra, you don't understand!" Papa Smurf said. "It's my job to—"

"Guide them? Be there, when they reach a fork in the road? Or, would you rather clamp your charges under a strong, glass dome and stop the hands of time? Or, better, set them spinning in reverse?"

"You're not being fair," Papa Smurf said. "I smurfed that Village curfew for the benefit of the Smurf community. We must look after each other in these difficult times and, in order to do that, I need to know exactly where each of my little Smurfs is at any given…moment…"

He trailed off, his voice faltering slightly. Lyssandra gently placed a hand over his, her silvery hair shielding most of her face from his view.

"You think you are alone, young Smurf," she said quietly. "That I cannot understand your feelings because I live here, alone, with no family to care for, or to care about me. But, I do understand. I know what it is to be part of a loving family, and I know the helpless anger that comes of no longer being a sister, a daughter, a friend… To lose one's family is to lose the better part of oneself. But what you have been doing is not fair to those who are still with you. Your Smurfs share your pain, and your fear. They look to you to give them direction, to help them feel less helpless in the face of their friends' uncertain fate. Yet, you have been denying them that. By treating them like infants and locking them in their rooms, you have been stoking their frustrations, not soothing them. Is it any wonder they have begun to rebel?"

"But I…" Papa Smurf started, but choked on his protest, his voice rough with tears. "I can't find them, Lyssandra!" he cried. "These past months, I have smurfed high and low and everywhere in-between, but I've smurfed no sign of Smurfette or Hefty. I…I've tried to smurf hope that they're still out there, that they're still alive, but every day I become a little less certain. And now these others have smurfed off on the same impossible quest…and I can't help smurfing 'what if…?' What if they don't come back? What if…if I never smurf them again! Oh, my Smurfs… My dear, dear little Smurfs…"

Lyssandra drew closer as Papa Smurf dissolved into tears, holding him like a mother holds her child. They were still sitting like that when Lyssandra's mirror began to ripple, the transparent glass wavering like barely set jelly. A line of figures began to emerge from the shimmering portal: five Smurfs and two small, monkey-like creatures, the likes of which Papa Smurf had never seen before.

"Hey, what do you know! He did it!" Tuffy said as soon as the whole group had made it through, giving Brainy a little punch on the arm. "Way to go, Brainy!"

Brainy rubbed his arm, but smiled. "Yeah, I did, didn't I," he said - then froze, his proud smile dropping with an almost audible clank.

"P-Papa Smurf!" he gasped. "I-I didn't know you would be here... I...I can explain..."

Papa Smurf looked at Lyssandra, then at the gathered Smurfs, his blue face practically glowing with joyful relief.

"I know what you did, Brainy," he said, "and I know why you did it. And, while I can't say I approve of any of you Smurfs smurfing away behind my back, it is certainly smurfy to see you all here!"

The Smurfs' pale expressions cheered and the whole group fell into a warm embrace. Only Lyssandra and the two monkey-creatures held back.

Lyssandra's nose twitched, and she tilted her silvery head toward the furry pair.

"Don't tell me," she said. "Simple Simon has struck again. I'd know the scent of that lazy oaf's muddled magic anywhere."

Tracker and his friends let out a cheer, and Brainy dared to step forward.

"I told them you would know what to do, Lyssandra," he said, and held out the rolled-up page he'd taken from Simon's magic book. "I brought this for you. I remember you always said how important it is for a wizard to have his source material ready when working to counteract a spell. Especially an unsmurfy, mixed-up spell like this one."

"Wait," Papa Smurf said, his eyes fixed on the two nervous monkeys. "What are you saying? Are you telling me that these... That you've actually found..."

"That's right, Papa Smurf," Tracker said. "Those blue creatures are our very own Smurfette and Hefty. I told you I'd track them down, come smurf or high water. No broken leg could keep this nose from smurfing out the trail, what?"

"Your nose wouldn't have smurfed anything without my brains!" Brainy retorted.

"Don't forget Nat's mouse!" Tuffy said, balling his fists.

"C'mon, Smurfs, this is no time to fight," Clumsy protested. "Uh, wasn't Brainy just sayin' how we've only got a few hours before that unsmurfy spell becomes permanent?"

"What's this?" Papa Smurf exclaimed.

"It's a moon-based enchantment, Papa Smurf," Brainy said. "According to Simon's spellbook, we only have until the rise of the crescent moon to find a counterspell or..."

"Or Smurfette and Hefty will be stuck as monkeys, forever," Nat finished.

"Short deadline," Lyssandra commented. "But not impossible to meet."

"You mean, you can undo the spell, Lyssandra?" Brainy said, hope perking all over his blue face.

"No," the silvery elf said.

The Smurfs gasped in horror.

"But, you can," she finished. "You and your Papa Smurf. I'll be here to advise, should you need me."

Brainy and Papa Smurf shared an uncertain glance.

"But, Lyssandra..." Brainy said awkwardly. "Surely, you, with your wisdom, would be better able to-"

"Perhaps I could, once," Lyssandra said. "But, I can't see that paper you brought here, Brainy. In fact, I haven't been able to see anything for longer than any of you Smurfs have been alive."

"Lyssandra..." Papa Smurf gasped. "You don't mean that all this time..."

"I told you young Brainy and I would be a good match," she said and smiled, her sightless eyes sparkling silver. "The blind leading the blind, as it were. Before you brought him here, I was worried I would have no one to pass my library of raised-print books to...that all the knowledge I have gained and mistakes I have made would eventually be lost to time. I long dreamed of finding a young person I could teach to read and write my way, using the raised-print alphabet I devised...yet, who but a blind wizard would take the time to learn to read with their fingers, rather than falling back on their eyes?"

"Then...then that's why you took so long to repair my glasses after I spilled that hydrosmurfic acid on them?" Brainy said. "You wanted me to learn to know the world the way you do - to smurf things with your ears and your hands and your heart."

"All senses can lie," Lyssandra said, "but the eyes, perhaps, are the most deceiving."

"Yeah, I'm sure all this is fascinating," Tuffy said, impatiently hiking up his belt, "but what's all this mean for Smurfette and Hefty? Can you smurf the spell or not?"

"We'll smurf it together," Papa Smurf said.

"Right," Brainy said. "Master and Apprentice. That is...if you'll forgive me, Lyssandra, for walking out the way I did..."

"Save your friends, Brainy Smurf," Lyssandra said. "Then, we'll talk."

Brainy looked nervous, but he squared his shoulders and unrolled the spell he'd taken from Simon's tent on Lyssandra's table.

"Brainy," Papa Smurf said, "this is a horse spell, not a monkey spell."

"I know, Papa Smurf," Brainy said. "Simon must have substituted some of the ingredients when he enchanted Smurfette and Hefty."

"Do you know what those substitutions were?" Papa Smurf asked.

"No," Brainy said. "But we can work it out."

"How?"

"I figure it's like the assignment Lyssandra smurfed to me just before I left," Brainy said. "The spell with the missing ingredient. I was supposed to work backwards, identifying each ingredient and what it did before I could smurf what the missing ingredient was and how much I needed to smurf the spell. We'll have to smurf the same thing with this spell, identifying what each ingredient does, then comparing them with the list of ingredients we found in Simon's lab until we smurf the right combination."

"That's going to take some time," Papa Smurf said worriedly. "And even if we do manage to reconstruct Simon's monkey spell, we'll still have to figure out a counterspell before the crescent moon rises. That's tomorrow night - less than a day away!"

"Don't worry, Papa Smurf, we'll do it," Brainy said confidently.

"What makes you so sure?" Tracker asked curiously.

Brainy turned his spectacled gaze to Smurfette and Hefty, huddled nervously in the corner with Nat and Clumsy.

"Because we have to," he said, and turned back to the spell. "Come on, let's smurf to work!"

To Be Continued...

Happy New Year! Thanks for reading, and for your fantastic reviews!
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Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 05-18-2015 05:46 AM:
 
14: Complimentary Skills

Tuffy kicked the wall, then slumped down into a hunch.

"I'm going absosmurfly batty just sitting around like this!" he said. "How much longer is all this reading and experimenting going to take?"

"You could grab a book and help," Nat suggested from where he'd been sitting talking with Smurfette and Hefty in their monkey language. Realizing his talents weren't needed for this part of the adventure, Tracker had fallen asleep on a nest of pillows he'd gathered together from around Lyssandra's library, his injured leg propped on a stool.

"I can't smurf any sense out of all that magic mumbo-jumbo," Tuffy complained. "I have no idea what half those stupid words even mean! How Brainy can sit there, hour after hour, smurfing through all those pages, I'll never know."

"Well, I guess that's why all us Smurfs are so different, Tuffy," the half-grown Smurfling said. "Every Smurf is good at something, but no Smurf is good at everything."

Tuffy snorted, and stalked over to take a seat at their table. "So, what are you Smurfs doing?"

"Mostly, trying not to panic," Nat said, giving the two enchanted Smurfs a sympathetic smile. "Lyssandra gave us some cards, though. Want to smurf a game?"

Tuffy glanced at the gray-blue monkeys. "Can they…?"

Nat looked disapproving.

"They're still Smurfs, Tuffy, whatever they may look like right now," he said. "Now, you keep quiet and I'll smurf the cards."

*******

"…then, according to this formula, the fourth substitution must be…" Brainy strained to think, tapping his pencil against his temple.

"Go ahead," Lyssandra encouraged. "You're nearly there."

"Wolfsbane!" Brainy exclaimed. "It's got to be wolfsbane! That would explain all the fur!"

"Well done Brainy," the elf praised, but Brainy was too involved in his work to bask in his achievement.

"Papa Smurf!" he called, racing to the lab table where Papa Smurf was carefully weighing and mixing various quantities of the different ingredients Brainy had been working to identify. "Papa Smurf, it's wolfsbane! That's the fourth missing ingredient!"

Papa Smurf's grim expression brightened. "Of course…" he said. "It's all starting to come together now. The question is, how much wolfsbane is enough to trigger the reaction?"

"I'll get to work on the numbers," Brainy said, returning to his notebook. "Balancing these compounds sure is tricky work, isn't it, Papa Smurf."

"I have to admit, this is the part of working magic I never really enjoyed," Papa Smurf said. "All the theory! I'm afraid I'm more of a practical wizard. I prefer smurfing out experiments in my lab to hunting through books and scrolls and working with formulae and equations."

"That's funny," Brainy said. "I really like magical theory. In fact, I was just thinking how smurfy it would be if I could do this kind of research work all the time!"

"Hm," Papa Smurf grunted, and looked thoughtfully at Lyssandra, patiently guiding Brainy through the next stage of the problem. "Amazing…" he whispered to himself. "Perhaps it's true what they say. There are none so blind as those who will not see…"

*******

Clumsy clomped down Lyssandra's narrow stairway, lugging a yellow fruit behind him that was almost as long as he was tall.

"Brainy! Uh, Brainy, I got it!" he called as he clattered into the library. Nat, Tuffy, Smurfette, and Hefty looked up from their card game in surprise. Tracker mumbled in his sleep, and rolled over. Clumsy beamed at them. "Feathers and I had to fly a long, long way, but we found a ripe banana and a peanut! Uh, where's Brainy?"

Tuffy jumped up from the table. "Wait – are you saying you were out on Feathers smurfing for this stuff?"

"Well, yeah," Clumsy said.

"And you didn't smurf me along!" Tuffy cried.

"Uh, gosh. I'm sorry, Tuffy. I guess when Brainy asked me to—"

"Clumsy, you're back!" Brainy exclaimed, dashing into the library. "Come on, quick, help me get this banana to Papa Smurf. You too, Tuffy. Where's the peanut?"

"Right here," Clumsy said, pulling half of a shelled peanut kernel from his pocket. "I…uh…I did find a whole peanut, but I, uh, sorta fell on it and, well, there was this squirrel and—"

"Never mind, you did great, Clumsy," Brainy said, guiding the group into the lab and having them set the banana on the floor. "Now we've got everything Simon used to put that spell together."

Tuffy wrinkled his forehead. "Why would he put a banana and a peanut in a spell?"

"I don't think he meant to," Lyssandra said, and shook her head. "My guess is whatever bowl he used to mix the spell had previously held his lunch. Or somebody's lunch. In any case, it was nothing short of irresponsible for him to use a dirty bowl. The cross contamination is part of the reason why your friends took the form of monkeys instead of the miniature horses the spell is designed to produce."

"Uh, gosh," Clumsy said. "But…does this mean you've figured out what went wrong?"

"We think so, Clumsy," Papa Smurf told him from the cluttered lab table, without pausing his work. "Once I've reproduced the spell, we'll know for sure. Then, comes the hard part."

"What do you mean then?" Tuffy asked. "I thought unmixing Simon's mixed up magic was the hard part."

"It was," Brainy said. "Believe me! But now we have to smurf the counterspell."

"Oh…" Clumsy and Tuffy shared a nervous glance.

"Uh, Brainy," Clumsy said. "I know you can't tell from in here 'cause there's no windows, but I think I should tell you, outside it's gettin' past late afternoon."

"I know, I know," Brainy said anxiously. "We've only got a few hours left before the rise of the crescent moon!"

"Do you think you'll make it?" Tuffy asked.

Brainy bit his lip and looked to Lyssandra and Papa Smurf.

"We can only do our best, Tuffy," Papa Smurf said. "Now, you and Clumsy should go back to the library and keep Hefty and Smurfette company. We'll let you know the instant we've finished here."

To Be Concluded...
 
Posted by Rowena (Member # 4018) on 05-18-2015 05:48 AM:
 
15: The Sorcerer's Apprentice?

The crescent moon rose, waxed, and waned over the Smurf Village, but the huge party celebrating the breaking of Simon's spell and welcoming Smurfette and Hefty home continued well into the moon's next cycle. Before long, Tracker was well enough to return his crutch to Dabbler and go back to happily tramping through the forest, blazing trails and sniffing out one of the Smurfs' favorite delicacies: truffles.

"Oh Brainy, oh Papa Smurf, I will never be able to thank you enough for rescuing us from that awful spell! You're my heroes!" Smurfette cried, refreshing the vase of fresh-cut flowers in Papa Smurf's lab and giving them both a big, happy hug, as she had been doing every day since their triumphant return from Lyssandra's home. The two Smurfs smiled and hugged her back, as always but, this day, as she left to join Hefty and Tuffy on their morning jog to the dam and back, Brainy's smile turned a little wistful.

"Is something wrong, Brainy?" Papa Smurf asked as he returned to his latest crop-growth experiment.

Brainy looked like a Smurfling with his hand caught in Greedy's cookie jar.

"Oh, no, Papa Smurf," he said. "I'm very happy you decided to let me be your assistant again. I truly am grateful for this second chance, and there is nowhere else I'd rather be than here in Smurf Village with you and all my friends. I really mean that!"

"But, you're thinking about Lyssandra, aren't you," Papa Smurf said.

Brainy adjusted his glasses on his nose, and sighed.

"Yes," he admitted. "I broke my promise to her, Papa Smurf. And…I know she thinks it's more important for the two of us to smurf along but… Well, I…"

"Go on, Brainy," Papa Smurf said. "Your feelings are important. Don't smurf them inside on my account."

Brainy blinked a few times, then looked down, his fingers fidgeting until he clasped them together.

"All my life, I wanted to be exactly like you, Papa Smurf," he said. "And I still respect you, more than anyone else in the world! It's just…"

He swallowed, and turned his gaze to the window.

"I don't want to…be…you anymore. Since that time we spent working together in Lyssandra's lab, unsmurfing Simon's awful spell… It made me realize…we don't think the same way, you and me. And, while I still want to become a wizard with everything that I am, I know now that…that I want to be a different kind of wizard. You're interested in crops and plants and growing things…I'm more interested in books, and people."

He looked up at his mentor, his eyes wide and vulnerable behind his glasses.

"Do you hate me now?"

Papa Smurf gave a start, then burst out laughing.

"No, of course I don't hate you, Brainy!" he said. "To tell you the truth, I think I've been waiting for this moment a long time."

"You have?" Brainy asked.

"It's important to know your own mind, Brainy," Papa Smurf said. "To follow your own talents. I want you to be the Smurf you are, not some younger copy of me. If that means your interests smurf you along a path different from mine, all the better. I'd rather work with a colleague than a copy. Do you understand, Brainy?"

Brainy looked thoughtful.

"Yes… I think I do, Papa Smurf," he said.

Papa Smurf's smile broadened and he clapped the younger Smurf on the shoulder.

"I'm so proud of you, Brainy," he said. "If you want to return to Lyssandra and complete your apprenticeship with her, I'm certain she'll take you back."

"Really!" Brainy exclaimed. "Oh…I didn't mean—"

"I know what you meant, Brainy," Papa Smurf said with a chuckle. "And don't worry, it won't be like it was before. You've proven to me, just now, that you're no longer a child, and you won't be treated like one. When you're not working, you'll be free to come and go as you wish. In fact, if you like, you can choose to study with Lyssandra a few weeks a month, and with me the rest of the time. For, you see, I've learned a few lessons too, these past months."

"You have?" Brainy asked. "What did you learn, Papa Smurf?"

"I learned my little Smurfs aren't so little anymore. Even the Smurflings are nearly grown," he said. "And my role in your lives has changed. I will always strive to keep you safe, but my responsibility now is to respect you as the adults you are. You Smurfs don't need a guardian anymore…and I no longer want to be one for you. I'll be your guide when you need me but mostly, I'd like to be your friend."

"My friend?" Brainy looked a little overwhelmed.

"Brainy, are you all right?" Papa Smurf asked.

"Yes," Brainy said a little hoarsely. "I'm fine. I...I just..."

Brainy wiped his eyes behind his glasses, then clasped his Papa Smurf in a powerful hug.

"I love you, Papa Smurf," he said. "I love you so much!"

"I love you too, Brainy," Papa Smurf said, feeling his own eyes begin to sting.

"And I'll be worthy of your confidence in me, don't you worry," Brainy said, pulling away from the hug. "I'll finish my apprenticeship and become a full wizard and then I'll be a real help to the Village, just like I always wanted to be! And, maybe, when I've finished studying with Lyssandra, I could study with Homnibus and learn all about the origins of magical lore and the history of all the human and magical communities that live in and around our forest! And, once I learn all that, I can teach other Smurfs, and write books, and-"

"All right, all right, Professor Smurf, I get the picture," Papa Smurf said with a laugh. "That's a wonderful future career you've set out for yourself, Brainy. But, let's start off with the basics first. Lyssandra's been waiting to hear from me. I'll contact her right now and tell her you're ready to come back."

"Thank you, Papa Smurf!" Brainy said, too excited to stand still. "I'll pack my books. Oh, and I'll have to tell Clumsy I'm going, and all the other Smurfs… Oh, Papa Smurf, I…I don't think I've ever felt so much like…like me before! I think I'm going to like being a real, grown-up Smurf!"

Papa Smurf watched with a smile as Brainy ran out into the Village, crying, "I'm going back to Lyssandra! I'm going to be a wizard!"

Then, he took a seat in front of his looking glass and enacted the spell to contact Lyssandra.

"And how are you, my not-so-young Smurf?" the blind sorceress greeted without even having to ask who was calling.

Papa Smurf chuckled.

"Smurfy," he said. "Just smurfy. Has the wizard's council smurfed to a decision about that Simple Simon yet?"

"They've decided, and the sentence has been carried out," Lyssandra informed him. "And it's a very good thing. When we tracked him down, we found he had captured and transformed three young faeries the same way he'd captured and transformed your poor Smurfs – not to mention the unfortunate rabbits, ducks, and chickens he had enchanted. Luckily, the counterspell you, your Brainy, and I developed worked just as well on them, with a few modifications, and they are now home and free. But Simon has been stripped of all his magical abilities."

"What will happen to him now?" Papa Smurf asked.

"The irresponsible oaf decided to return home with Miranda Lott and take a job working at her father's inn," she said. "They'll both be all right. But this news was not the reason for your call. Have you reached a decision about your young Brainy?"

"I have," Papa Smurf told her. "I've decided to take your advice, Lyssandra. I'm letting him go, and I'll keep my arms open wide. The three of us can smurf a training course and schedule together, once he's back with you."

Lyssandra nodded.

"I'll look forward to working with you, as colleagues."

"As I will look forward to working with you, and with Brainy. When he's ready." He chuckled a little and shook his head. "His dreams are so different from mine, Lyssandra," he said. "But, at heart, I believe we both want the same things."

"You have done a fine job rearing your Village, Papa Smurf," Lyssandra said. "I've never been prouder to call you my friend."

"You are loved here, Lyssandra," Papa Smurf told her sincerely. "Don't ever forget that. Although you choose to live apart from the world, you will always be a part of our family."

The lonely elf started to respond, but choked a little and shook her head.

"What is it about you Smurfs?" she said, and smiled a warm, heartfelt smile. "Send our Brainy over whenever he's ready, Papa Smurf," she said. "I'll be here."

Her image faded from the glass. Papa Smurf stood up and strode outside, his eyes following the busy, happy bustle that was daily life in Smurf Village. Everywhere he looked, Smurfs were laughing, singing, working, playing. He spotted Clumsy and Brainy not far away, sitting together beneath a tree. Clumsy was telling his friend about his dream of one day building a beautiful rock garden for all the Smurfs to enjoy, while Brainy told him his dreams of someday building a vast library, and sharing the world's knowledge with the Smurf community.

"I have a smurfy feeling this Village is going to see a lot of changes in the next few hundred years." Papa Smurf smiled to himself. "What a future my little Smurfs will smurf for themselves! And, I can't wait to help them smurf it."

The Conclusion

That's it, everyone! The end of this story. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Thanks so much for reading!
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