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The Reluctant Dark Knight/Part 4

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Brewing Trouble

"Thank you, Johan,” said Papa Smurf as he handed him several items: two scrolls, a book, and about five or six little vials of colored liquids.

“Handle this all with great care,” he added. The knight secured them in his saddlebag after mounting Bayard and assured him that he would.

“Good smurf, Johan!” he called as he rode off to Master Homnibus. He and Brainy waited until he was out of sight to attend to the remainder of their duties around the village.

"Brainy, I must finish smurfing Hefty his muscle enhancement serum, so I’ll need you to go see what Farmer needs in the meantime,” he instructed. His assistant nodded.

"Yes, Papa Smurf, and might I say that I will also re-smurf Handy that his order of Wood Buffering Spray is ready for smurf, and furthermore –”

"Thank you, Brainy,” Papa Smurf interrupted, already on his way back to his lab. He greeted Painter holding his easel, Lazy sleeping by the well, and Grouchy who stated, “I hate good mornings!” along the way. Yes, just another smurfy day.

. . .

Johan had no trouble reaching Master Homnibus’ humble home: he followed the clean dirt path through the open valley after leaving the forest. It was visible from several hundred feet away. He gently kicked his horse’s sides, quickening their pace, and smiled as they approached.

A few minutes later, they were drawing near enough to slow down, so he pulled the reins into his middle.

“Yah, Bayard,” he commanded. The beast snorted and fell into a trot; then stopped altogether in front of the door. Johan dismounted and held the reins around his left wrist, knocking on the door with the other. When the old wizard answered, he straightened his back and let his arm rest at his side.

“Good afternoon, Master Homnibus,” he started politely.

“And to you, Johan,” he replied happily. “What brings you here?"

“Papa Smurf requested me to give these items to you,” he explained, reaching into his saddlebag. He pulled out the two scrolls, book, and vials of colorful liquids and carefully handed them to him. “He told me to have caution while handling them.”

“And you did a fine job, Johan,” Master Homnibus complimented, inspecting the vials. “Not a scratch in sight!”

"Thank you, sir.” With that, he hopped back into the saddle and took the reins in both hands, looking back at him once more and adding, “I’ll be more than happy to return anything to Papa Smurf should you need me.” The old man waved to him as he rode off, telling him he would take him up on his offer sometime soon. He headed back to the castle to pick up – more like rescue – Peewit in order to follow up with the cook’s list, having only brought most of his listed items back for him.

He arrived in time to see two of King Gerard’s knights leave the castle, stirring up dust on their way off with their horses. He momentarily wondered what their business was, but disregarded it – he figured it was something minor for the King to deal with.

“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about,” he told himself as he settled Bayard into the stables. “Besides, I have my own matters to attend to.”

“Anything I can help you with, Johan?” Falla asked behind him. When he looked over his shoulder, he saw her standing cross-armed with a playful smile on her face; one eyebrow lowered and the other rose. He turned around and walked out with her.

“Help me find Peewit so we can finish the cook’s list by tonight,” he said. She agreed and went one way while he took another direction – he hoped they would be back out on the road soon. Sadly two hours drifted by before either one saw any sign of him, and when they did, neither was in any good humor.

. . .

Gargamel and Scruple returned home in ragged shape, but they had the four grams they needed, and to the wizard’s luck the dragon tooth had sunk to the bottom of the cauldron. He opened the spell book to the page with the ribbon and pointed to the next step of the process: “Add the vulture’s blood in one steady dose and lower the boil to a light simmer for half an hour.” He did so.

The blood hissed when it touched the water, swirling around the receding bubbles, and seemed to fall in pockets – his apprentice stared, fascinated. He had never seen this happen before, but his master had.

“Scruple, don’t just stand there!” he barked suddenly. “I’m going to need the Nasty Essence next!” The boy turned away and picked up a triangular bottle of purple liquid labeled Essence of Nastiness and handed it to him. Gargamel yanked it from his hands and read the next instruction off the page: “Prepare the Essence of Nastiness to be executed into the mixture by chilling it over ice until the initial half hour has passed.”

His apprentice unhappily retrieved a bucket of ice from the cellar and set it down by his feet. He crossed his arms while Gargamel propped it up in the middle and decided to ask what they still needed off the list. His master pulled it out of his pocket again and skimmed the items.

“Let’s see here...we have that,” he mumbled, crossing one off, “and that...and – did my stupid cat bring back that rat?” He glanced up at Azrael who pointed to a cage on the table with his paw and a disgruntled meow. He saw an ugly little rodent twitching it’s whiskers behind a set of flimsy metal bars and crossed it off the list too. “Scruple, go out and bring back three snails for me.”

“Ugh, do I have to, Garggy?” he whined, slouching. The old wizard furrowed his brow and shook his fist at him.

“Yes, you have to, you idiot! Now get moving,” he cried, pushing him out the door, “And they had better be big ones! You hear me?” He made sure the boy entered the shrubbery before returning inside, overlooking his list.

“Just as soon as I have the rest of these ingredients, I can complete this potion and have that valiant little knight on his knees begging for his freedom back!” He cackled at the very thought of it.

  1. 6 Hellebore Seeds [x]
  2. 3 Large Snails []
  3. 1 Dungeon Rat [x]
  4. 5 Ounces Wolf Hair []
  5. 3 Ounces Gravel Powder []
  6. 2 Triptear Weeds with Roots [x]
  7. 4 Grams Vulture’s Blood [x]
  8. 1 Pound Fresh Piranha [x]
  9. 2 Dragon’s Teeth [x]
  10. 3 Grams Enchanted Caraway [x]
  11. 5 Ounces Evil Root [x]
  12. 1 Frozen Heart []

It was all coming together.

. . .

Brainy was on his way back to Papa Smurf’s house after delivering Handy’s Wood Buffering Spray when he heard footsteps in the distance. He stopped and looked around, but saw no one, so he scratched his head.

“Well that’s rather odd,” he said to himself. He continued on, but still the footsteps were clearly there. “I wonder who could be smurfing such loud smurf-prints?” He had no idea it was Scruple until a minute later when he overheard him complaining about the snails.

“Why does Garggy always send me to do the worst possible chores?” He picked up one particularly bulky mollusk with two fingers and made a sickened face as he dropped it into his jar. “Stupid slimy shelled things…” He didn’t see the Smurf hiding in the bushes watching him.

Brainy scurried back to the village, exclaiming, “Papa Smurf! Papa Smurf! Scruple is dangerously close to the village!” Several little Smurfs overheard him and chatted wildly to each other about it. Then the eldest of them exited his lab and asked him what all the commotion was about.

“I smurfed Scruple in the woods just a second ago, Papa Smurf,” he exclaimed worriedly, “he was collecting snails for something. I suspect that Gargamel is smurfing something that isn’t good, and suggest that you put me in charge of sending a group out to uncover his treachery, and furthermore –”

“That’s quite enough, Brainy,” Papa Smurf interjected. By now he had a crowd around him asking what they should do. He held his hands up and said, “Calm down, my little Smurfs. In order to understand why Scruple would be looking for large snails this close to our village, I will need a few volunteers to come with me to pay Gargamel a visit.” Immediately the majority of them raised their hands and stood on tiptoes, hoping to be chosen.

He chose Hefty, Handy, Jokey, Brainy, and Smurfette: “Come now, my Smurfs. We must leave at once.” With that, he said good-bye to the rest of them and promised to be back as soon as possible.

They followed the boy back to the wizard’s hovel and hid under the window, peeking over the edge just enough to see what they were doing inside. They watched Gargamel toss in the snails, three piranhas, and the Triptear Weeds, and then he stirred it in the cauldron with his back to the spies. Papa Smurf contemplated the ingredients and tried to understand the type of spell he was conducting with them.

"This is strange, my Smurfs,” he admitted. “I don’t know Black Magic like Gargamel does, but I believe that he is trying to create a repellant potion of sorts.” Handy looked at him while the others kept their eyes on the two humans.

“You think so, Papa Smurf?” he asked.

“It’s just an educated guess, Handy, but there is a chance that I’m wrong, which is why we must take a look at his spell book,” he replied, “That way I can determine what he’s really up to.” Smurfette looked at him, too.

"What should we do, Papa Smurf?”

“I’ll need you and Jokey to create a diversion while Brainy, Handy, and I smurf that book,” he explained. She and Handy nodded while Brainy searched the hovel curiously.

“Hey, where’s Azrael? Is it just me, or is that cat nowhere to be found?” he wondered aloud. As if on cue, Azrael shrieked in their faces, jumping up on the window sill with claws and teeth bared. The Smurfs screamed and fell back, alarming Gargamel and Scruple.

“What’s going on, Azrael?” he cried, looking out the window. He gasped: “Smurfs!”

“Run, my little Smurfs!” announced Papa Smurf – and they all took off into the forest. Looking back once, he saw the evil wizard open the door and shout after them, “Stay away, you horrible creatures! You won’t stop my plans this time!” When they disappeared from sight, he returned inside and gave his cat a pat on the head for scaring them away. Then, he resumed his work with the potion, reopening the spell book. “Now then, where was I? Ah, yes, continue stirring until the mixture turns a pale yellow and moves like oil.”

  1. 6 Hellebore Seeds [x]
  2. 3 Large Snails [x]
  3. 1 Dungeon Rat [x]
  4. 5 Ounces Wolf Hair []
  5. 3 Ounces Gravel Powder [x]
  6. 2 Triptear Weeds with Roots [x]
  7. 4 Grams Vulture’s Blood [x]
  8. 8 Ounces Essence of Nastiness [x]
  9. 1 Pound Fresh Piranha [x]
  10. 2 Dragon’s Teeth [x]
  11. 3 Grams Enchanted Caraway [x]
  12. 5 Ounces Evil Root [x]
  13. 1 Frozen Heart []

“Scruple, get the spare jar of Gravel Powder from the cellar. The one in the cabinet is nearly empty.”

Author's Note

I realized (happily) that I could copy and paste the list of ingredients if it's in the same page - that makes life easier doing this project. Also, this is the only time we hear from Homnibus since he's a background character. After this, he becomes a mentioned character until Season 11.

Continuation

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