- Age: Oldest and fatherless
- Species: Great question, actually
- Weapons: Immense, mysterious magic power, deeply unsettling songs
- Special Attack: The element of surprise
- Is unaffected by the One Ring
- Is ageless, possibly immortal
- Exercises great power with little effort
- His voice defeats enchantments
- Seems to be bound to the Old Forest
- Is a bit unreliable
- Oblivious to concerns of mortals
- Age: Subjective
- Species: Numinous
- Weapons: Spear, deific powers, an irascible wit
- Special Attack: Being twelve steps ahead of everybody else
- Is literally a god
- Is an unparalleled community organizer
- Has a fairly impressive bodyguard
- His existence is threatened by waning belief
- He's seen better days
By Liana Brooks
Old Tom leaned against the burlap sacking that divided the Cage Match stage from the eager viewers on the other side. He puffed at his pipe angrily. Against his better judgement, and certainly with no thought for his blood pressure, he glanced back down at the script. “Ho, my wooden, Woden fellow? Who comes up with these rhymes?”
A hundred tiny footsteps echoed across the back stage.
“You!” Tom roared, surging to his feet. “You bloody handbag! We had a fix! You said you could get me out of this mess!”
The Luggage stopped, a piece of stagehand hanging from its lid. It contrived to look guilty.
Tom dropped back down with a thump. “Well, where’s the new idiot? Maybe he has the brains enough to make my death look real.”
With a slurping sound, the last of the stagehand disappeared. A dark mahogany tongue licked the lid.
Someone standing in the shadow of the curtains coughed.
Leaning, Tom peered around.
A man with grey hair and a trim suit stood there. He could have been a mature forty or a young immortal. His face was squared, rather craggy, and his smile was duplicitous. “I believe I’m the new idiot, as you said. Mr. Wednesday, or Odin All-Father, if you prefer.”
“Tom. Tom Bombadil, Oldest and Fatherless,” Tom said as he stood up. “I assume you have all the usual powers in this match-up of the immortals. Magic, some trinket or other, possibly a few familiars?”
“Ravens. Wolves. Charms. Immortality.” Mr. Wednesday’s glass eye seemed to glow. “All the usual things. Yes.”
Tom nodded. “So, we go out there and it’s a fair fight. I rhyme you…” He waved a hand at Mr. Wednesday. “Smarm, I suppose.”
Mr. Wednesday rolled his shoulders back, looking offended. “I am a God! Not a charlatan.”
“Of course. Of course. Old Tom is forgetful.” He sniffed as he drew out his pipe. “Care for a smoke? Pipe-weed? Old Toby from the south farthing? No? Doesn’t tickle your fancy? More for me than you.”
The old god of the Norse stepped closer. “I couldn’t help but overhear your lament earlier. You were looking to get out of this little game?”
Old Tom shrugged. “Could be. Could be. There’s better things to do. The Old Wood is calling. Sweet Goldberry is waiting for me. And I’ve no mind to spend my life doing tricks for mortal men.”
“Then, my dear Mr. Bombadil,” Mr. Wednesday said, drawing closer, “let me discuss with you a mutually beneficial arrangement. A way of allowing me to advance to find my true quarry and for you to return to whatever benevolent afterlife is waiting.”
Tom smiled. Without warning he lunged forward and shoved Mr. Wednesday back in the waiting, gaping mouth of the Luggage. “No thanks, mate.”
There was a snap of finality.
“Hmph.” Tom blew a smoke ring. “A right bastard that one. As if I haven’t dealt with gods before.” He rolled his eyes. “Take my advice, lad.”
The Luggage bumped him.
That seemed to satisfy.
“Take my advice, Lug. Don’t put your faith in rhymes and chatter. At the end of the day, you survive by being a little keener, and a little meaner, than that other bugger.”