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"Gaining The Mask" is a mini-story that takes place in the HERO: The Guardian Smurf story series. It takes place shortly after Hero's exile.

The Story

It had been a few months since Hero was exiled from the Smurf Village by Papa Smurf for badly injuring Jokey Smurf to the point of close death. Ever since then, most of the other Smurflings were adjusting to have one less Smurfling living with them in the village. To some of the Smurflings it was a good thing, but to the others it wasn't a pleasant feeling; particularly to Fergus, Hawkeye and Dempsey who were Hero's closest friends.

Now Hawkeye had something special about him which made him unique to the other Smurflings, he wasn't as strong as Hefty, Fergus or Dempsey, he wasn't as poetic like Poet or a master artist like Painter; in fact Hawkeye possessed something which granted him the ability of extended vision; allowing him to see much greater distances than the other Smurflings.

One day, Hawkeye was busy practicing his archery skills in a small clearing close to the village and every time he lined up his shot, his extended vision hindered his efforts to fully focus his shot and strike the target located several feet away.

"Argh! Curses! Every time I smurf up my practice shots this vision always hinders me!" Hawkeye said sounding frustrated. "It seems more like a curse than a blessing."

As he went around picking up his arrows off the ground for another go, his friend Fergus MacSmurf appeared.

Fergus MacSmurfling Concerned
"Alright, laddie," Fergus greeted. "I was wondering where you smurfed off to."

"I was just busy with my archery, Fergus," Hawkeye answered, collecting the last arrow.

"How's it smurfing along, laddie?" Fergus asked, sitting down on a rock close by.

"It's really difficult that's for sure," Hawkeye said, putting the arrows in to his quiver; but keeping one arrow out to prepare for another shot. "This extended vision really smurfs my eyes under strain."

"Is it quite common, laddie?" Fergus asked, beginning to sound concerned.

"Not too common," Hawkeye answered. "But it's quite common."

"Maybe you should smurf a word with Papa Smurf," Fergus advised. "It's best to smurf him about it before severe damage can be smurfed to your eyes. Maybe he might be able to help you."

"I'll smurf it to him," Hawkeye said. "Just as soon as I'm finished here."

Fergus watched on as Hawkeye prepped the arrow in to the bow, pulled back on the string and letting go, launching the arrow towards the target, but his hindered vision as well as the wind began to alter the arrow's flight path and made it go much higher than expected; making it hit a tree located behind the target.

"Argh! For the love smurf!" Hawkeye shouted in frustration. Fergus came over to him.

"Listen, laddie, smurf back to the village and tell Papa Smurf," Fergus said. "I'll smurf your arrow and target back."

Hawkeye knew Fergus was right, his eyes were under severe strain and felt very painful.

"I guess you're right, Fergus," Hawkeye said.

"Of course I'm right, laddie," Fergus said. "Quickly now! Smurf back to the village."

Hawkeye greatly appreciated Fergus' concern and headed straight back to the village and to Papa Smurf's laboratory.

...

Meanwhile in Papa Smurf's laboratory, Papa Smurf was not only teaching Brainy about magical spells; but he was also teaching Doctor everything about he knew about medical symptoms as well as ways to treat it.

"Okay now, Brainy, once you've smurfed the hellebore seeds in to the formula you must leave it to boil for several minutes until it goes a unique shade of green. Letting the potion smurf a minute more or minute less could smurf strange side effects." Papa Smurf said, showing him what to do.

"You can count on me, Papa Smurf," Brainy said in his usual know-it-all voice, as he watched the potion brew carefully.

"Alright now, Doctor, once you've smurfed the specific region of the body where the disease is located; you must smurf a special potion to contain it in that one area in order to avoid it spreading throughout the body. Only then will surgery be required to successfully remove the disease. But I'll teach you how to successfully perform surgery when you're further along with your studies," Papa Smurf said, whilst going through a medical encyclopedia that he had written.

"Of course, Papa Smurf," Doctor said, before sitting down in order to thoroughly study it.

At that moment, Hawkeye came in to the laboratory.

"Papa Smurf! Papa Smurf!" Hawkeye called out in order to get his attention.

"What is it, Hawkeye?" Papa Smurf asked concernedly.

"This extended vision is really smurfing my eyes under strain, Papa Smurf," Hawkeye answered. "I can't even focus properly."

"Let me smurf a look," Papa Smurf said, before inspecting his eyes. "Is it painful if you smurf them around or when you blink?"

"It's really irritating, Papa Smurf," Hawkeye said. "I feel if this keeps up I'm going to lose my vision."

Papa Smurf began to ponder, he did notice the strain that Hawkeye's eyes were being put through. Luckily he knew a special spell which could help.

"Luckily I know a special spell which will help you, but in order to do it; you must wear a mask," Papa Smurf advised.

"A mask? What kind of mask?" Hawkeye asked.

"It'll just be something simple, nothing too fancy. I'll see if Tailor can smurf us a simple mask," Papa Smurf said. "The only advice I can give you is to not smurf anything that requires you to focus too much as that can smurf further damage to your eyes."

Hawkeye knew that could prove to be difficult for him to do as most of his past times required him to focus. His only option was to return to the sleeping quarters for a long rest.

During the time that Hawkeye was resting, Papa Smurf had finished his lessons with Brainy and Doctor and was busy working on the special spell to help deal with Hawkeye's severely strained eyes. Prior to starting, he had asked Tailor, who was studying the profession of clothes making, to create a simple mask to apply the spell to. As he added the ingredients to his cauldron, Tailor had entered the laboratory holding a small box in his hands.

"Here's the mask you asked me to smurf, Papa Smurf," Tailor said, presenting it to him. "I didn't smurf much white material to smurf a mask; so I used purple material instead."

"Any material would've smurfed just fine, my little Tailor," Papa Smurf said, taking the box from him. "Now to smurf it with this special spell."

Tailor watched as Papa Smurf took the mask from the box and placed it in to the cauldron; all while chanting an incantation in a very strange language. The cauldron glowed as the incantation was chanted before Papa Smurf brought the mask back out from the cauldron surrounded by a golden aura before it eventually died down.

"What was that for, Papa Smurf?" Tailor asked.

"It's a special spell to help deal with Hawkeye's severely strained eyes," Papa Smurf said. "This will make it much easier for him to smurf longer distances and also to fully focus without putting his eyes under any strain whatsoever."

"That sounds smurfy, Papa Smurf," Tailor said with an innocent smile.

"Can you go and smurf Hawkeye here please, Tailor?" Papa Smurf asked.

"Yes, Papa Smurf," Tailor said, before running out the laboratory and towards the sleeping quarters.

...

Eventually, Tailor had brought Hawkeye to Papa Smurf's laboratory in order to present him with his new mask.

"Right, my little Hawkeye," Papa Smurf began. "I've asked Tailor to smurf up a mask for you and I've smurfed it with a special formula in order to tackle your strained eye problem."

"You have, Papa Smurf?" Hawkeye asked sounding really excited. "I knew I could count on you."

"Indeed I have," Papa Smurf said smiling, before presenting the mask. "Go on, smurf it on."

Hawkeye took the mask from Papa Smurf, took off his hat, and pulled the strap over his head until the mask became a perfect fit.

"How do I look, Papa Smurf?" Hawkeye asked.

"Smurf a look for yourself," Papa Smurf said, pointing to a nearby mirror. Hawkeye walked over to the mirror and looked at himself.

Hawkeye Smurfling

"This is so smurfy," Hawkeye cheered. "This mask makes me smurf like a superhero."

"Why don't you try focusing your vision, my little Hawkeye?" Papa Smurf asked.

Hawkeye looked out the window and could easily see Farmer and a few other Smurfs tending to the fields, he noticed his vision wasn't hindered whatsoever and his eyes felt perfectly fine.

"It worked!" Hawkeye cheered again. "I can smurf! I can smurf!"

Papa Smurf could only smile proudly as he watched one of his little Smurflings jump for joy. It made him feel proud of himself.

"Thank you, Papa Smurf," Hawkeye said happily, giving Papa Smurf a great big hug. Papa Smurf reciprocated the same feelings.

"It was no problem," Papa Smurf said. "I was just smurfing what any Papa would smurf."

Hawkeye then ran out of the laboratory feeling so happy that can now enjoy life without anything hindering him.