• Published 23rd Aug 2015
  • 10,897 Views, 1,120 Comments

Fellowship is Magic - Mr-War

Something strange is happening in Twilight's palace. The magic mirror has started acting strangely during a period of intense solar flares, leaving her worried about what complications might occur. The next thing she knows, through a sequence of even

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Tom Bombadil

Tom Bombadil

"D... destroy it?" Frodo asked in disbelief. Were they seriously discussing such a course of action? Yes, he understood just how dangerous the ring he was carrying could potentially cause. But still, the thought of destroying something as beautiful as...

Frodo stopped, and took a deep breath. This ring, this accursed item, was weaving its magic on even him. It was almost like it was fully aware of what Twilight was saying, and was responding with panic to the idle discussion of ending its existence.

"Do you think that you can do it?" he asked curiously.

At that, all Twilight could really do was shrug. "I really don't see why not. It's... hard to quantify the magic I'm sensing coming from the ring, in terms of measurement from my own world. But what I'm sensing... leaves me fairly certain that I can do it. It's simply a matter of..." Twilight paused, realizing that the discussion of magical theory might go right over Frodo's head. Even Gandalf seemed lost at some points during her informing him about their world. Perhaps it would be better to give a very simplified answer, even if it would technically be incorrect. "Well... it involves pouring a sufficient amount of positive magic into the object, serving to counteract and negate the amount of dark magic that exists. The two cancel each other out."

Frodo nodded in understanding as he fished the ring out of his pocket. But Twilight recognized it as being the nod someone gave when they didn't have a clue what was being talked about, and simply wanted everything to move along smoothly, for the sake of getting by. She'd let that go for now, as it wasn't important.

"This isn't going to be dangerous, is it?" he asked as he held the ring out to her in the palm of his hand.

"For you, not really. Not so long as you haven't been infused with dark magic yourself," Twilight explained.

Without warning, Pinkie was right by Frodo's side, rearing up onto her hind legs and proceeded to give him a long lick on the side of his face.

Naturally he freaked, shirking away in confusion as to what had just happened.

"He tastes free of dark magic to me!" Pinkie stated cheerfully.

Twilight blinked, and sighed, and simply shook her head. She'd address Pinkie later on. But for right now she had more important things to focus on.

"Alright, let's give this a go. Hold still please," she said as her horn started to glow brightly.

Frodo watched as a purple beam of light shot from the end of Twilight's horn and made contact with the ring. He nearly dropped it in surprise, certain that her magic would burn his skin because of how bright it was. But much to his surprise, he felt no discomfort whatsoever. It was no worse than being under the bright sun itself.

And then there was a sudden flash as Twilight's beam cut out, and she was sent flying backwards, hurtled off the ground by an unseen force with an accompanying scream of surprise.


Rainbow Dash had been there in a flash, catching Twilight before she could land roughly against the ground, gently setting her back down on all four of her hooves.

"What the hay was that?" she asked.

"I'm not sure," Twilight replied, feeling shaken up by it all. "But I think what Gandalf said about Sauron was right. That should have been enough to purify a fairly large amount of dark magic, but it just rebounded. Either my magic doesn't work properly in this world, or Sauron was far more powerful than I originally assumed."

"So what does that mean for us?" Sam asked as he approached cautiously.

"It means that I'm going to need to try harder. I'm going to need to bring my full strength as an Alicorn to bear if we're to succeed. I don't know how it might stack against the Dark Lord Sauron, but back in my world, the Dark Lord Sombra would have been crushed by such overwhelming strength," Twilight stated firmly as she approached again, her horn beginning to glow brightly. "Frodo, you might want to set the ring down for this one. I can't make any guarantee that you wouldn't be harmed by this. Everyone, you may wish to step back a ways, just in case."

Frodo was in no mood to argue with Twilight at hearing this. The malice, and disgusted reverence in her voice when she spoke of this "Sombra" individual, filled him with a sense on unease, and suggested that he wasn't an individual that should be trifled with under any circumstances. That was enough to motivate him to set the ring down on the floor of the forest path, and quickly step back several paces. The others followed suit, giving Twilight a wide berth to work whatever magic she had to her.

And then they each stepped back several more paces, just to be certain.

Twilight stopped several paces from the ring, closing her eyes, and breathing slowly in concentration to summon the strength she would need for the task ahead of her.

Everyone watched as Twilight's eyes flew open, glowing completely white, as lavender flames emerged from the outer corners of her eyes, flickering like mad as a very bright beam hurtled towards where the ring laid on the ground, crashing against it with a blinding flash of light that forced them all to shield their eyes, finding it even brighter than Spike's fire when he'd tried to destroy the ring himself.

The group had quickly reached the decision that they hadn't been far enough away from Twilight, as they were all feeling the tingling of her magic in the area, as it made their hair stand on end.

And then it just stopped. Whatever she was doing, it ended abruptly without notice, leaving them to wait for their eyes to adjust to the darkness once again.

"Did it work?" Spike asked as he rubbed his eyes, starting to make out shapes again.

"No," Twilight sighed to herself and hung her head in defeat. "If this ring had a tongue, it would be giving me the raspberry at me right now..."

"What's a raspberry?" Pippin asked as his night vision finally came back.

"This," Rainbow Dash replied, before sticking her tongue out and giving him a demonstration. Then she turned back to Twilight. "So that's it? We need to go through the forest to Bree to deal with this thing?"

"It looks that way," Twilight replied and nodded, "there's one other thing that I might be able to try. But we really don't have enough time for it," she explained.

"And what might that be?" Frodo asked as he picked up the ring and placed it back in his pocket for safekeeping.

"Well... at this point it's more theory and speculation than anything else. But I think under the right circumstances, I could grow stronger," Twilight stated.

"Stronger?" Applejack asked, quirking an eyebrow in the process. "Sugarcube, Ah thought ya jus' said ya were usin' yer full Alicorn strength, an' it still didn' do any good."

"I was. But that was simply all the strength I had at present. It's... sort of complicated," Twilight replied, trying to think of how to explain everything. "In the months that have passed since the battle with Tirek I felt... different in a way. I couldn't really explain it back then, but often I felt like I wasn't using anywhere near my full strength. Sometimes I got the feeling that I was practically walking on eggshells no matter what I was doing, and trying not to break anything. I don't really have any way of proving it, but I think that when I was tasked with holding all of the Alicorn magic in Equestria, it might have changed my body, and pushed it beyond its normal limits. I honestly don't think a regular body could have held all of that force; it was just way too much for that to be a possibility."

"How much?" Pinkie asked.

"That's... difficult to quantity in round terms to a non-unicorn. But... well let's say that, for the sake of comparison, when I became an Alicorn, all of my magic could be represented by a block of marble that weighed four tons. After Princess Celestia, Luna, and Cadance gave me their magic, that block of marble would have to be more like 80 tons," Twilight explained.

"Holy cow!" Rainbow Dash stated. She was joined by a chorus of others who shared her amazement at the explanation.

Twilight simply nodded. "As I said, the amount of magic my body was tasked with housing was immense. With so little knowledge of Alicorn anatomy being available, I just don't think it could've done that without a resulting change occurring to make it possible. I think my body might have been modified from the strain it was under. I think it might have remembered some of the strength it housed at one point, and now that it's not there, it's attempting to fill that void."

It was at this point that Pinkie moved beside Twilight, and started running her hooves along her barrel, causing Twilight to laugh in response to the unexpected tickling.

"You feel the same to me as you did before, Twilight," Pinkie stated, before turning to Rarity. "Hey Rarity, can I borrow your measuring tape to double check?"

"That's not what I meant, Pinkie. What I mean, is that I think my body is trying to fill up that void on its own through the expansion of my magical reserves; like refilling a water bottle that's almost empty. Theoretically this would simply mean that I could continue using magic for an extended period of time, without getting as tired as easily. Unless the reserves aren't readily accessible, except through meeting some physical or emotional requirements that render it possible," Twilight explained. "Like I said, it's complicated. I really didn't have any idea of just how much power I was wielding, until after Tirek destroyed my home. That's when the flood gates opened, and I truly had an idea of just what was at my hooves..."

"So you're saying you need to get pissed to get stronger?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"Well I wouldn't put it like that, but for lack of a better way of describing it, more or less," Twilight replied and nodded. "But we're talking about far more than simply getting angry. We're talking about an intense emotional upheaval. And I don't know if I can muster that at will right now. I'd need to run a lot of tests, and it would take a lot of time. And right now time is something we don't have. At best we've got... I'd say a little more than 80 minutes before those riders make it back to the crossroads on the other side of the river."

"Well then what're we waiting for? Let's haul tail on outta here!" Spike stated. Standing around right now, when something wicked was coming for them, was way too stupid to consider.

"I'm with him," Pippin added, "let's be gone, and be quick about it. The night isn't getting any lighter, and those riders are only gettin' further away either!"

There was little in the way of discussion as the group agreed with the recommendation. They would set off now, their path illuminated by the glow of Twilight's horn, go as far as they could, then find somewhere secluded to camp for the night. After that they would continue on further at first light.

"So you know what she was talking about back there?" Merry asked Pippin as they guided the bunch ahead.

"Not a word of it. But as Mum always said, 'never argue with a talking pony'," Merry replied.

"She never said that!" Pippin stated.

"How would you know? You weren't there!" Merry retorted.

"QUIET!" the rest of the group shouted, putting an end to the bickering of the two.

The night wore on. Sleep eventually claimed them all, the lot of them camping in a secluded spot far off from the main road, too tired to bother with keeping watch in case the riders found them.

At dawn the next day, after taking the opportunity to get breakfast, the company finally entered the Old Forest without a word. Silently they passed through the small door that was the only entrance from the Shire to the Old Forest, for a tall hedge blocked it off from the rest of the forest.

Soon the early morning daylight disappeared, as they began to pass deeper on through the many species of trees in the wood. Sunlight that managed to emerge through the entangling branches was rare, so it was somewhat difficult to keep to the dark path.

"I can't see my hand in front of my face," Pippin commented.

"That's because it's in front of my face," Merry retorted.

"Do I have to separate you two?" Sam asked, really not in the mood for their nonsense at this time. "Just keep moving."

As they went deeper into the woods, the trail became rougher, and the forest darker. Their original plan was to keep to the trail going northeast, but as the moved on, that was getting harder to actually do. It was almost like the forest had other ideas, and was intent upon acting accordingly.

"This place reminds me a lot of the Everfree Forest back home," Rainbow Dash muttered as they walked along. And she really hated being limited to simply walking. "Now that place was really bad news to be stuck in."

"Do I even want to know how bad?" Sam asked rhetorically.

"Livin' rock creatures that'll gobble ya up if yer not careful," Applejack stated.

"You win!" Merry stated. Shortly before falling flat on his face due to an errant tree root. "Ouch."

"Twilight, can't you light the way like you were doing last night?" Rainbow Dash grumbled, feeling one of her hooves snag on yet another tree root in the path.

"I don't know if that would be for the best, Rainbow Dash. We have no way of knowing where those riders are. And it stands to reason that any sign of lavender light will stick out to them, since they saw it last night. We could give ourselves away. For all we know they could easily be somewhere in here with us," Twilight pointed out, doing her best to avoid snagging her wing on any rogue branches that might be sticking out. They were already getting enough twigs in their manes and tails as it was.

"Good. If we're tripping and falling on each other, someone else should be as well," Rarity commented, trying to focus on anything other than the fact that creeping through all of these rogue branches was ruining her coat.

For a while the group continued in silence, minus the declarations of pain, and various colorful language from one or another at trying to pass through a particularly thick and dense area of forest that simply didn't want to cooperate.

"We're going the wrong way," Twilight pointed out as they trudged along.

"How can you tell?" Pinkie asked.

"Assuming this world has the same north/south magnetic poles that Equestria does. I tapped into the magnetic fields with my magic, and the northern pole is behind us. We're headed south," Twilight explained, "I'm starting to think that we're going around in circles. It's... almost like the flora of this forest is treating us like we're an infection in the body, and trying to keep us from advancing."

Frodo nodded to what he could best understand regarding the statement. "Yes, it seems like the trees have other ideas. They appear to keep blocking us."

Applejack chuckled at hearing that. "Moving trees? Whoever heard of such a thing?"

Merry shot her a look. "The Old Forest isn't a normal forest, Applejack. Years ago this forest actually tried to fight against the people of Buckland- grew over the hedge at a rapid pace, and would not stop despite the fact that the residents of Buckland cut it back constantly. It wasn't until they made a great bonfire that the forest finally ceased its attempts to cross the hedge."

Applejack narrowed her eyes at hearing that. "So y'all got thinkin' trees here? Huh. Ah... don' know how ta feel 'bout that."

"As interesting as that is, that still doesn't change the fact that we are heading in the wrong direction," said Rainbow Dash pointedly.

"Well there isn't much we can do about it now, can we?" Merry snapped, his patience growing thin. He had really not wanted to go through the forest in the first place. And now those that had wanted to, were complaining about the fact that it wasn't going like they wanted it to.

Rainbow Dash held up her hooves in mock surrender. "Just saying."

With very little left to say, everyone continued on their trek as best they could, making every effort to stay as far away from the trees as possible, for fear of what they might be motivated to do if they should stray too far.

"I don't believe it..."

Many hours into their journey, quite a while after they had stopped attempting to go in any direction that the forest did not agree to, they reached a river. It was mid afternoon, and the Old Forest had steered them south the whole time. Merry saw groaned audibly at the sight of the river, knowing just what it meant.

"Well, at least now I know where we are. We are completely off course. This is the Withwindle; we're in the southern part of the Old Forest. However, if we just follow this river, we should get out of the forest soon enough. Once we are out of the woods, we go north across the Barrow-downs, and then take the East Road to Bree. Then..." He paused.

"Then we will see what there is to see," Frodo ended for him. "Come along then. The sooner we are out of here, the better. We do not want to spend the night in here."

"Forget that!" Rainbow Dash loudly objected, bringing everyone's attention to her. "We tried playing fair this whole time, and look at where it got us! Well forget that, and forget this forest! Let's just blow!"

Rarity waited until Rainbow Dash's outburst concluded before speaking up. "And just how do you suggest we do that, darling?"

"Remember how we helped the breezies when they blew through town? Same basic concept. Twilight turns all of us into pegasi, just like how she turned us all into breezes, then she blows a hole through the tree canopies, and we just fly on out of this forest, and continue on the rest of the way to Bree, high above where no black riders can ever reach!" Rainbow Dash stated in a triumphant manner.

The looks Rainbow Dash received from the others were as varied as they individuals themselves. Some were of amazement, some disbelief, and some as if she were spouting insanity.

"Can she do that?" Pippin asked as he looked at Merry. Merry simply shrugged in response.

"Rainbow Dash," Twilight spoke up as she slowly approached, "while I appreciate your efforts at looking for a solution, that simply won't work. There are just too many issues with it, for it to be a viable option."

"Name one," Rainbow Dash replied quickly, her voice carrying an edge that practically reeked of looking for a confrontation.

"Well let's see. How about the fact that I still can't fly for starters? Even if the rest of you can fly, I'm still grounded until this nerve stops being pinched," Twilight pointed out.

"So I'll just carry you out. It won't be the first time we've done something like that," Rainbow Dash replied.

Twilight coughed and cleared her throat, her cheeks feeling hot at the idea of the solution. Undaunted, she continued.

"Secondly, while that might work for some of us, the same can't be said for others. Being a different species, to say nothing of from a different world, there's no guarantee that Sam, Frodo, and the others, will be able to comprehend the inborn pegasus instinct that their new form would carry with it. For Applejack or Rarity, it would be different since they're ponies. But there's no guarantee for hobbits. There's nothing saying they'd know how to fly," she explained.

"Then we'll just teach them how to fly. As long as their wings are the right size, I'm not seeing the problem," Rainbow Dash replied.

"The problem is that it could take them hours to learn the mechanics of flying properly. And as cramped as the forest has been lately, they really wouldn't have adequate practice room for learning about take offs and landings. That fact aside, their newly formed wing muscles wouldn't have the strength to carry them for very long, so any flying they could do, would be very limited. All of which is contingent upon them even being able to get off the ground to begin with," Twilight stated.

"Now you're just going and looking for reasons why this would fail," Rainbow Dash stated accusingly as she poked Twilight with her hoof.

Twilight ignored the poke and simply frowned in response. "Alright then. Let's say everything went smoothly, Frodo and the others can fly out of the forest with the rest of us. They wouldn't know how to fly acrobatically like you can. They'd be slow, uncoordinated, and easy pickings if the black riders have any archers in their ranks. We'd practically be marching them into a slaughter if we gave them wings, but not the skills to use them to their maximum potential. You know how look it took for me to learn how to use them, and I've been a pony all my life. Imagine how hard it would be for them to not only need to learn how to use newly formed appendages with no correlation to what they already have, but also a new body entirely. They'd be lucky to know how to crawl without falling on their faces," Twilight pointed out.

Rainbow Dash wanted to respond, the rebut, to offer up any sort of argument that would undo the points Twilight had raised to discredit her idea. But despite her best efforts, she simply couldn't. There were just too many good points being raised for her to argue against them. Twilight had used her own exceptional skills as an explanation for why her suggestion just wouldn't work. What was she supposed to do in light of that; argue that she wasn't so awesome that anypony could compete with her?

"You don't play fair," she grumbled in response and hung her head.

Twilight just shook her head. "Besides all of that, Rainbow Dash, we're supposed to be traveling incognito. As soon as we get out of this forest, we should put those cloaks on so we look like everyday hobbits. And hobbits can't fly through the air," she pointed out. "Seriously. Can you think up a logical explanation we could give to anyone who would witness a flying hobbit? Much less a group of flying hobbits?"

Rainbow Dash didn't even blink before responding. "Too many turnips and cabbage."

The others present, who had been observing the back and forth conversation like it was a tennis match, immediately split in terms of response to Rainbow Dash's comment. Spike, Applejack, Pinkie, Merry, Pippin, and even Sam, all laughed or otherwise chuckled. Rarity, Twilight, Fluttershy, and Frodo either frowned at the suggestion, or simply responded with disinterest.

"You're hopeless," Twilight sighed, "look. Let's just keep moving. We're not getting anywhere just standing around here, talking about what won't work."

"Do ya mind if we rest fer a spell first? Mah hooves are killin' me from walkin' through this forest," Applejack stated. She didn't know about the others, but her frogs were aching terribly right now. How Frodo and the others were holding up with bare feet was well beyond her, when they looked so much more delicate then their own hooves did.

"Mine too. This forest is rougher walking than the Everfree Forest," Pinkie added.

"Alright," Twilight replied, knowing that there was no way of winning this discussion. They could all sit and rest for a few minutes, and then set off again.

"Let's rest under that large willow tree," Pippin suggested as seeing they were going to get a breather.

"Sure. Sounds fine to me," Twilight replied. Under the tree was as good as anywhere else.

She didn't want to admit to it, but stopping for a rest felt very good right now as she sat down with the others. She'd been on her hooves for who knew how many hours, and now she was starting to feel it. And it felt just short of excruciating to experience right about now.

"I'll just close my eyes for a few minutes," she told herself as they all sat down and made themselves comfortable.

A quick shout broke the silence in the area. Swiftly afterwards there was a large splash, and with that last sound that snapped them all back to attention. They saw that Rainbow Dash was in the river, cursing Equestrian profanities loudly enough to disturb any remaining wildlife nearby as she splashed furiously. She quickly got out and started yelling some more.

"That bucking tree just threw me in the bucking river!" she screamed, glaring at it darkly, before vigorously shaking herself like a dog to dry off her coat.

"RD, Ah think yer dreamin' er somethin', trees don' just throw ponies on their own," Applejack replied, finding the story more than a little difficult to believe.

Rainbow Dash didn't even blink before responding. "Plunder vines."

"Touche," Applejack replied, before taking note of something else that was out of place. "Where in the hay is mah hat?"

"Looks like it's up there," Spike said as he pointed up to a low hanging willow branch on which the aforementioned hat was stuck.

"Consarn it!" Applejack grumbled as she got up and leaped to retrieve her hat, only for it to fall just out of her reach; like the branch had moved in anticipation of her movement. "Ya cheater! Ah'm getting back what's mine, one way er another!"

Twilight had been watching since Rainbow Dash's unexpected bath, silently taking stock of everything. The warning about this not being a normal forest was starting to carry a lot more weight. Maybe there was really serious merit to Rainbow Dash's suggestion that they fly their way out of here. Even if nothing else, Applejack, Pinkie, and Rarity could be turned into pegasi, and that would give them five viable fliers. Depending on who rode with whom, they could get everyone out in one trip.

But just as she was about to speak up, a new development occurred, completely throwing them off course. That development occurred in the form of willow branches reaching down without warning, and quickly snatching up Fluttershy, Rarity, Merry, and Pippin, all with no regard whatsoever for the panic it caused them as they screamed helplessly. Nor a measure of concern for the amount of peril they were being put in.

That did not set well with the Princess of Friendship at all.

"Let them go!"

She was tired, and now she was furious that her friends might be put at risk. In her state, thinking rationally wasn't proving to be the easiest thing to do. Rather than approaching the problem from a logical angle, she went with something far more viscerally satisfying; that being conjuring a sword forged of pure magical energy, floating above her head.

It was a high-level, complex spell that she'd only learned the basics of recently, and had been nowhere near mastering at this point in time; evidenced by the shimmering, flicking, and even arcing along the blade, showing that it was far from being stable. But it should still have enough solidity to it, to let her cut the offending branches down, and rescue the others.

Sam, not wanting to be left on the sidelines, undid his pack and dug out the hatchet he had packed the journey ahead of them, in the event of needing wood for a cooking fire. In this case, however, it was needed for wood of an entirely different purpose.

"Don't!" Fluttershy yelled as best she could with the branch curled tightly around her ribs. "He says he'll suffocate us if you harm him!"

At hearing this news, Spike lost it. Up until now he'd been doing his best to stay calm, and keep focused on what was important; like getting out of this forest. But now, apparently the forest had other ideas. Not only was it threatening them and their friends, it was also threatening Rarity of all ponies. He wasn't about to stand for that; not one bit!

"If that stupid tree does, I'm gonna burn down this whole bucking forest!" he roared as loudly, and as furiously as he could manage. "And I'm gonna start with him! I'm a dragon, I can do that!" he added, embers of green flame already spilling past his lips as he spoke to emphasize his point.

Twilight, despite being furious, was horrified by what Spike had just so boldly declared; not just because of the language, but also by the fact that he was apparently willing to cause so much damage in response to their friends being threatened. But before she could say anything in response, before any of them could say anything in response, something else caught their attention. Everyone heard some sort of singing coming from somewhere further down the river path.

"Hey dol! Merry dol! Ring a dong dillo! Ring a dong! Hop along! Fal lal the willow! Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!"

Rainbow Dash, despite the seriousness of the situation, glanced at Pinkie wryly. "Sounds like one of your types."

"My songs are much better than that," Pinkie commented, not sure whether to be hurt or offended by Rainbow Dash's comment.

The singing ceased for a minute, and then suddenly Frodo came back with the strangest looking man they had ever seen.

Granted, most of them had seen so few men, it was hard to say accurately. But under these circumstances, it was a safe bet.

He wore yellow boots, a bright blue coat, and a huge hat. A long brown beard framed his jolly red face. About a foot higher than Frodo, he was easily too tall to be one of the hobbits, but too short to be a Man, if Gandalf was any indicator of what they were like. He wore a huge smile on his face- an expression that convinced the ponies of Equestria -except for Pinkie- that he was utterly mad; who could possibly be smiling so hard in this entire forest!?

"What's wrong, me lads and lassies?" the strange man asked as he looked at all of them curiously.

"Our friends are stuck in the willow tree," Frodo explained hurriedly as he gestured upward, winded from running in hopes of finding someone that could help them. "We tried getting them out, but nothing is working!"

"In more accurate terms, one of our friends says the tree is threatening to suffocate them if we make a move on it. Meaning we don't know just what to do," Twilight elaborated.

The man simply laughed, showing no measure of concern for what was being said. "That's it? Old Tom knows all the forest's secrets, knows Old Man Willow's secrets. Naught worse than that? We will have them out soon enough my hearties!"

The man walked- or more like danced- over to the tree, and whispered something like a song into the bark. The willow tree shivered, and lowered its branches, setting free Fluttershy, Rarity, Merry, and Pippin.

Needless to say, there was much relief once they were no longer in danger.

"Now how's about mah hat?" she asked as she looked up at the tree with a frown.

The tree responded by flinging her hat into the river.

"Ya ornery varmint," she growled as she ran for the river to retrieve her hat. However she tripped over an upturned willow root in the process and went crashing into the river instead. She emerged a moment later, completely soaked to the bone, her hat limp, and coughing hard. "Ah won't forget tha' no time soon," she muttered angrily as she climbed up onto the bank, and shook herself like a dog.

As soon as everyone was all right, they stood together and surveyed the stranger. All of them -other than Applejack, who was too busy trying to squeeze her hat dry- thanked him for his assistance in the rescue.

The stranger laughed in response. "Anytime, no problem here!" he said in a singsong voice. "Now, you shall come home with me! The table is all laden with yellow cream, honeycomb, and white bread and butter. Goldberry is waiting. Time enough for questions around the supper table. You follow me as quick as you are able!" And with that, he started dancing quickly away.

The others followed him as fast as possible, motivated strongly by the prospect of food. Even though he was only dancing, he was incredibly fast, and it was proving hard to keep up with him, especially with all their heavy bags weighing them down.

All except for Pinkie who was effortlessly keeping pace with him, hopping along and humming a merry tune as if she didn't have a single care in the world.

"Is it just me, or is this guy a bit of lunatic?" Rainbow Dash as they ran after him. Spike nodded quickly.

"He makes about as much sense as Gandalf did before Twilight figured out the translation spell," he stated.

Their group kept running along, desperate not to lose track of the strange individual -and thankful that the forest was no longer opposing them- until finally they emerged from the forest. It was just past sunset, and quickly getting dark. They found themselves on a green plain, with the trees on the edge of the flat land, well kept, and with the grass short and trimmed. They still followed the man along the river, until they came to an equally well-kept house. It was the only building they could see in the area, but the cheery lights streaming out of the windows made them quickly forget about that.

They saw the man standing in the doorway, still singing his own brand of cheerful nonsense. he waved to them, motioning them inside. Once they came to the doorway, slowly, one by one, as if in a dream, they stepped inside.

They all sat down together at a long table, and thanked him repeatedly for his kindness, but he just laughed.

"Not a problem, not a problem, my hearties! Now that we are in my nice, cozy home, we shall say introductions, starting with myself. I am Tom Bombadil, Master of the waters, trees, and air, spouse to fair Goldberry."

"Then you own these lands?" Twilight asked him, wondering if they were going to be facing trouble for trespassing.

Tom shook his head in response. "Oh no! They all own themselves; I am just the master of them. Neither tree nor branch has ever caught Tom! I have no fear of them. Now, who are you, and what are six ponies, four hobbits, and a dragon doing in the forest?"

Frodo spoke. "I am Frodo Baggins. They are Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took, and Meriadoc Brandybuck," he said, gesturing to each of them in turn.

Twilight then spoke up next. "I am Twilight Sparkle. This is my personal assistant Spike, and my friends are Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash."

"Assistant, eh?" Tom said, glancing at Spike. "I shall find my wife now."

"You need not look," said a voice from atop the staircase of the home. As one, the company looked up and saw a fair-headed maiden dressed in green; she wore a kind smile on her face.

Tom grinned. "There's my pretty Goldberry."

The woman glided down the stairs in a smooth motion. She went into an adjourning room, and soon came out with a large tray laden with food. She put down many plates of bread, butter, and honey, which the company stared at hungrily. When she set down jugs of water, however, Rainbow Dash frowned, but quickly covered it with a smile.

"Hey, Goldberry, you don't happen to have a bit of ale, eh?" she asked. Pinkie looked up eagerly at the question, and even Applejack could not hide her own interest.

The hobbits, too, were keeping their ears open for the answer. But who could really blame them, as hobbits were known for having a fine appreciation for a good drink.

Goldberry smiled politely before responding. "We do not carry ale often in this house."

With that, she finished serving and sat down on the other side of the table across from Tom, and then they all started eating. Rarity and Goldberry merrily chatted with each other, while Tom went about questioning the others.

"So, my hearties, what were all of you doing in the forest? No place for strangers."

Frodo answered for the group. "We are heading to Bree. The roads are... err..."

"Filled with black riders that chill your very bones," finished Pippin.

"We voted on which route to take, and ended up with the Old Forest."

Tom nodded. "That's curious business enough, but just as curious is all of you together! I haven't heard of such wandering bands before. How did you all end up like this?"

While they were now filled with food and greatly comforted, those of Equestria remembered Gandalf's warning and, while it seemed silly in such a cheery setting to heed it, were careful not to reveal their true nature to him. After all, only the wizard, Bilbo, and Frodo knew where they were really from, even though Sam, Merry, and Pippin were certainly suspicious of their claim of just being "friends with Gandalf and Bilbo".

Those three were far craftier than they let on, Twilight was certain of that.

Tom did not seem convinced, but he only nodded, and did not press the issue further. "Gandalf, Gandalf, I know of him- it has been a long time since we've talked. But still," he said suddenly, "what business do you have in Bree?"

Frodo kept it simple. "We are to meet Gandalf there."

"Gandalf!" said Tom again with a laugh. "Gandalf does have his mysteries! But come, come," he said without further explanation of his statement, "dinner is done and we will now tell stories by the fireside! Come along my hearties!"

Rarity went with Goldberry, who she had taken a liking to, to help with the dishes while the others went with Tom to the fireplace.

Tom told several stories about the world, and both the group from the Shire and Equestria learned a great amount of things that night. As they shared stories of their own, Twilight and the others talked about their life in Equestria, and though they never mentioned any names they often said more than they meant to say. It was as if this comfortable home loosened their tongues beyond their complete control. The hobbits also discussed many things concerning the Shire and events there. Frodo said much more than he meant to; he spoke about Bilbo's party, the black riders, and finally he even ended up speaking about the Ring.

Again, Twilight wasn't certain of just what it was, but something about the atmosphere of Tom's home seemed inebriating; much like the ale she'd sampled several days ago, but not nearly as harsh to experience. It was all just... comfortable.

Tom listened to all of their stories with no interruptions. However, as Frodo talked about the One Ring, he suddenly showed a great deal of interest. "Show me this precious Ring!"

To everyone's amazement, even that of Frodo, he didn't even hesitate to take out the Ring, and handed it to Tom.

As Tom was fiddling with it, and pulling it on and off with ease -and much to their amazement, a total lack of turning invisible- Rainbow Dash came out of her dreamy state and watched the Ring intensely. It was her first time really, really seeing the Ring closely, and she suddenly felt a great lust for this precious treasure: greater than any lust she held for anything before. Greater than even her desire to be a Wonderbolt. She knew that she would cherish it beyond all of her other personal things, and that this simple, but beautiful ring would turn all her dreams into reality.

She watched as the Ring went up into the air and nearly panicked with Frodo when it disappeared. Tom laughed and handed it back to the hobbit with a smile. Rainbow Dash quickly turned her head away to hide her expression, but only one thought went through her mind: she must have that ring!

"Take the ring, Rainbow Dash, take it for yourself, you know that you deserve it. You faced the black rider all on your own when the others ran away..."

Yes. That was true. In the face of overwhelming terror, she hadn't hesitated to come to the aid of the others, putting herself in mortal danger of being injured by keeping the rider at bay, and letting them get to the ferry. Who better to have the ring than her?

"Take the ring from Frodo. He and the others will just squander it. Or worse, destroy its wonder. You can't allow that to happen..."

No. No she couldn't let that happen. It would be a travesty if something like that were to come to pass. She had to prevent that from happening. She had to preserve the ring, and what it could do for them. For her...

"That's it. The power of the ring shouldn't be squandered. So what if it belonged to Sauron in the past? He's not around anymore, no matter what Gandalf might say. Take the ring, use it as you see fit. If you had it in your possession, you'd be guaranteed to become captain of the Wonderbolts for sure..."

That had been the thought that caused her to put an immediate halt to that particular train of thought. She couldn't explain what had snapped her out of it, all she knew was that she had. It was almost like immediately bolting awake from a bad dream.

She was now starting to understand just why the ring was such a terrible item that couldn't be kept around. It was capable of horrible influence, and had nearly convinced her to beat the manure out of Frodo to take the ring for herself. Her, the former holder of the Element of Loyalty. That was totally unacceptable.

They needed to get rid of that wretched ring. One way or another...

Author's Note:

Just so you all know: This will be the ONLY scene from the book that I will add to the story. From here on out, this story will follow movie canon.

And before you all ask: NO, Rainbow Dash will NOT try to take the Ring from Frodo at Amon Hen. I have a better (and less predictable) idea than that.