Hello, my fellow Fanficcers. I apologize for any inconsistencies between this story and the Lord of the Rings books and movies. This story IS set with an alternate plot line. The song of Tom Bombadil is from "". Still don't own anything Pratchett or Tolkien. Hope you enjoy!

Chapter 3: Old Forests, and Strange Men

The morning promised to be a good one, the sun shining bright and clear. All of the Hobbits (and Moist) were up at the crack of dawn. Samwise, Moist, and Pippin were tasked with gathering the very last essentials for the journey. Meanwhile, Frodo was helping Merry bring the ponies out to the front of Crickhollow. Fatty was bringing all of the luggage outside.

"You know," Pippin said, packing a loaf of bread into a large backpack. "I'd hate to tell Frodo this, but I am a little scared of this whole...adventure thing. It's not that I'm afraid anything's going to happen. No one's going to send us off on our own. I'm just afraid of what will come after this. I just hope that everything will stay the same."

"Young Peregrin," Moist said, sighing. "You'll learn, someday, that nothing ever stays the same. Especially after you go off on an adventure like this. You will learn, and see things on this adventure that will change your body, your mind, and your soul."

Sam looked at Pippin. There was a look on his face that said, very blatantly, 'This guy scares me'. Pippin just shot the glance back at him, and nodded. All the while that they talked, Fatty Bolger ran in and out of the room, grabbing packs, bags, and bundles.

They all went outside once the packing was done, to find Merry and Frodo standing with six ponies. "What?" asked Moist. "No horse?"

"Sorry," said Frodo. "We weren't expecting one of the Big People to be coming with us. But don't worry! I have a feeling that we won't be able to make much better speed on ponies than we would walking. And remember: you have longer footsteps than us." The group started off, walking down over the fields, away from the road, all of the Hobbits on ponies, Moist on foot. He was keeping up pretty well, being only a few steps behind the first row of Hobbits.

Finally, after an hour of trekking, the travelers came unto a large opening in the Hedge that they had been following. It opened into a large forest, full of closely knit trees. "Are we going in there?" he asked.

"Unfortunately," Frodo said. "We have to." They bid farewell to Fatty Bolger, who turned around and rode back at a quickened pace, towards Crickhollow. "Well. In we go." They all started off, into the forest, a decision they would later regret.

"So," said Pippin, pushing a branch out of the way. "Is it true?"

"Is what true?" asked Merry.

"The stories about this place. I mean, it's said that the trees come alive, and do horrible things to people! And it's also said that there are goblins in here."

"Oh Pip. There are no goblins in this forest. However, the tree thing may be true. I've never personally experienced it, for all of the times I've been in here. However, it's said that once, when Hobbits were just beginning to migrate here, the trees moved themselves right next to the hedge, and attacked. The Hobbits cut down many of the trees and made a huge fire from them. That's what the Bonfire Glade is. We should probably try to make for it, if we can."

"Wait a minute," Moist said. "'For all of the times I've been in here'? How often do you come into this forest, exactly?"

"Well, I mean, I've been in here a good handful of times. Of course, I'm a young Brandybuck. So it makes sense that I've been in here a couple of times."

Moist raised his eyebrows, muttered "This guy's nuts," and just continued to walk.

"Wait a moment," the voice said into the darkness. "I know this place." The figure was suddenly reminded of a memory of the strongest Wizard (or rather Sorcerer) who ever lived, a large and ugly horse-like creature, and a sock full of sand. "Oh god. I'm in the Dungeon Dimensions! Which means-Oh god! I sent the Postmaster General into the Dungeon Dimensions!" The man started to freak out.

'Rincewind!' the voice in the back of his head called to him. 'Get a hold of yourself! So what if you sent the Postmaster General into the most dangerous place accessible from the Disc! You should be trying to get out yourself!'

"You know," Rincewind said. "There's a reason why I hate you; You're the most insensible, incompetent, ignorant, arrogant conscience I have ever met!" After that, his conscience shut right up-for now.

"Oh no. What will Miss Dearheart-or rather, Mrs. Von Lipwig-think when they hear about this? I really hope they won't want a refund. I've already spent all of the money that they gave me!" Rincewind began to hyperventilate. "Okay. Well Rincewind. You've found your way into this. Maybe, you can go find another portal. Yeah. And maybe you'll find Moist!" Gathering up all of the spirits that he could, Rincewind lifted his robes and he ran.

In between spurts of running, he'd walk. At one point, he even sat down to eat. He had turkey and cheese on rye. Then he ran. Then, he saw a portal. It was blue, and he took that as a good sign. "I like blue," he said. He stopped to do the pre-portal check, but as he was pacing he tripped. He tumbled face first into the portal.

"You know," said Moist, tripping over a branch. "I really hate trees!"

"Hush!" said Merry. "You'll upset them." Suddenly, as they came towards a stream with a large Willow Tree, they all began to trip and stumble. Suddenly Pippin looked up.

"Can't go another step..." he said, "without rest..."

"Must sleep," said Merry, "plenty cool under the Great Willow..." Merry and Pippin walked over to the great Willow, and sat down underneath, one on either side. Samwise sat down in the middle of the field. Moist stood there, blinking stupidly. Frodo muttered something about "heat" and "water" and went to the edge of the river. He dipped his feet in to it, and let out a sigh of relief.

"Something doesn't seem quite right," Sam said, getting up and walking down the path. About halfway up the path he heard noises from behind. He heard a sound as of two great holes being ripped in wood, and then a loud splash! He turned around and Moist was coming up behind him.

"Quick Sam! Frodo's fallen in the creek! And goodness knows what's happened to the other two!" The two of them turned, and took off up the path. There, in the river, was Frodo lying face down. There was a large root on his back, pushing him down and keeping him under. Between the two of them, however, they were able to get Frodo up on land.

"Of all the things!" Frodo exclaimed, dripping wet. "All I wanted was to cool down my feet, and suddenly, splash! I'm being held under the water by that root."

"Well, we've gotten you out now Frodo," Moist said. "But come. What is to be done with Merry and Pippin?" The three walked around the tree. Pippin was nowhere to be seen, but Merry's legs were sticking out of a crevice in the tree. It appeared as though the tree was pinching him, holding him in, and his legs out.

"Samwise," Frodo said. "Did you happen to pack an ax? Just a simple utility ax for cutting lumber."

"Yes sir. But what if the tree gets mad? Then what? He won't like us chopping him up!"

"Well, just get it Sam. I've got another plan in mind." Sam hurried off to check their supplies for a hatchet.

"What is this other plan of yours?" inquired Moist. He was quite curious to know what Frodo could do with an ax, if not chop a tree.

"I'm going to cut up some of the fallen branches, and start a fire. Which reminds me..." he turned to look at Sam. "Sam! Get some flint and tinder too!"

Soon enough, Sam came back with the flint, tinder, and ax. Frodo quickly lit a fire at the base of the Willow. Just then, there came muffled screams from inside the tree. It was Pippin, or perhaps Merry, and they were yelling.

"Poot it oht!" the voice yelled. "It zed id'll pinzh my legs uf!" It must have been Merry. They quickly stomped out the fire.

"Well," Moist said, "what now?" Suddenly, Frodo was overtaken by urgency, and a greediness for aid. He took off down the path yelling, "Help! Help! Oh, won't somebody help us?" Just then he stopped, rather abruptly. From down the path, there came the sound of singing.

The singing voice was deep and cheery, and it was singing nonsensical words. It was a little like this: "Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo! Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow! Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!" Suddenly, a tall man, fair and dark of skin with bright blue eyes, a blue jacket, a blue-feathered blue hat, and tall yellow boots, bounded up the path. "Hello, my fine hearties!" he exclaimed. "The name's Tom Bombadil, and I heard you shouting from up the path. What seems to be the problem?"

"Our friends have been eaten by the willow!" Sam cried. Tom looked over at the great tree. "Old Man Willow! Why, I'll set his roots straight!" He walked over to the old tree. He picked up a branch off the ground and hitting the tree with it, he said, "Eat earth, dig deep. Drink water. Go to sleep!" With that, the Willow gave out a groan, and Merry and Pippin were both relieved through cracks that opened up like great gates.

"Thank you so much!" cried Merry and Pippin in unison.

"A word of wisdom for young hobbits; do not fall asleep under great willows! Come along, my hearties, and you will stay with Tom; at least for tonight. But I can't leave Goldberry waiting. So I'll be going ahead. Just catch up as you will." With that, he began bounding up the path, singing the same nonsensical song as before.

Rincewind awoke, to find a rather large bump on his head. It was about the size of an egg (robin's egg, that is) and pretty much as round. He realized almost immediately that he was no longer on the Disc. Or at least, he wasn't on any part of the Disc he had ever seen before.

He was on top of a large stone tower, broken, tumbled, and obviously very old. The tower was built on, and into, a large hill. From where he stood, he could see for miles and miles, in any direction. Until he saw forest, or mountains. Then, his line of vision stopped. He could see that the place he was in was used rather often, seeing as it had many paths leading up and down it's various sides.

"Hello?" he called out. Just then, he heard someone shushing him from the east. He walked over, and looked off the hill. Directly below him, was a dell. In the dell, was an old man, dressed in a grey robe, with a grey hat, that's brim stuck out past his bushy eyebrows. He had a long beard, which ran down to his belt. In a sheath on the belt, was a sword, and in his hand was a gnarled old staff. Obviously a fellow wizard.

"If you know what is good for you, you'll keep your mouth shut," the wizard said to him. There was a rock next to him. It appeared to have a picture of some...thing, and then "III". There was also a hastily stacked pile of wood, and a campfire, burning very dim.

"What's going on?" Rincewind asked. The old man looked up at him. The fire in his eyes shone more fervid than the one in the campfire.

"Sauron, the enemy. His servants are out tonight. They are approaching this; the Watchtower of Amon Sul. Weathertop. They come to slow me down in any way possible. They look for information on the One Ring."

"The One Ring?" Rincewind looked at the old man skeptically.

"You do not know of the One Ring?" Moist shook his head. And the old man plunged on into a much shorter version of the tale of the one Ring. "And I," he said, at the end, "am Gandalf. And Gandalf means me." Suddenly, Gandalf looked up. So did Rincewind. The Shadows that he had recently spotted below were closing in on the ring. Gandalf picked up a stick, and lit it ablaze. He handed it to Rincewind, who held it in his left hand, his staff in his right. Gandalf drew his sword, Glamdring, and held it in his right hand.

"Stay alert," Gandalf said. "The eyes of the enemy are very powerful. Very powerful indeed." Just then, they were overtaken by the Shadows.

Moist had been leading the Hobbits along the path for some time. They were all growing hot, and all together tired of the long road they had been treading. All of them wanted nothing more than a nice, hot supper, and warm beds. But none now wanted it more than Frodo, who was still cold and wet from his swim, just a little while earlier.

Just then, around a bend in the road up ahead, there came the noise of singing. One of the voices was certainly Tom Bombadil's, but the other was much fairer. It was like the rain falling down in spring, to meet the twinkle of the stars, off of the grasses fair beads of dew. The party rounded a corner and saw, up ahead, a large house on a small hill. In the doorway, stood Tom and next to him, a thin, tall figure, alike to an elf.

It was a woman, clad in a forest green dress. She wore a silver belt, and in her hair of gold, were brilliant water-lilies. For the first time ever, Moist and the Hobbits laid eyes on Goldberry, the fair River Daughter.