''The Rules'' is an Manga/AxisPowersHetalia {{fan fiction}} by Number One Fan of Journey on Fanfiction.net. It opens with an average world meeting, to which only twenty nations have come. After the usual period of bickering and falling asleep, the nations get ready to go back out the front door...

[[{{Portal Door}} Except outside is some sort of forest instead of the city it was when they entered.]]

The nations find a note entitled [[{{Title Drop}} "The Rules"]], which states:

"1. For each of you, there is a certain nation on this island you must kill.

2. If you kill your nation, you will go home.

3. If you do not kill your nation, you will not go home.

[[{{Four is Death}} 4.]] [[{{Anyone Can Die}} Enjoy your immortality while it lasts.]]"

Chaos ensues.

It can be found [[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7651780/1/The_Rules here]]. The story's sequel, ''Break Out,'' can be found [[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8947583/1/Break-Out here]].
!! Provides Examples Of:
* AccidentalMurder: America [[spoiler: strangling England with his own tie]] seems to be this, going by the 'shocked look' on the former's face.
* ActionFilmQuietDramaScene: As usual in Journey's work, there are quite a few, and they usually coincide with Crowning Moments of Heartwarming:
** Romano's musings over [[spoiler: Spain's]] dead body, complete with pleading for [[spoiler: his friend to wake up]].
** Canada and England sitting together and discussing the possibility that the island was created by magic.
** Austria and Hungary trying to calm Italy down after [[spoiler: his friends are killed]].
** Spain and Romano trying to calm Italy down after [[spoiler: Austria and Hungary are killed]].
** Spain and Romano finding an injured, exhausted, and all but broken [[spoiler: Italy]] and gently carrying him away.
** Switzerland comforting Liechtenstein after her first death.
** Japan and China talking before [[spoiler: the latter allows the former to kill him]].
* AlasPoorVillain: Whenever a less-than-sympathetic nation bites the dust, it'll almost always be with some twinge of pity. Examples include [[spoiler: Russia]] fearfully remembering his own people trying to assassinate him before being killed by [[spoiler: Japan]], and [[spoiler: Canada's]] terrified insistence that he doesn't want to die as the same happens to him. Special mention goes to [[spoiler: Japan]] and his no less than six deaths.
* AllDeathsFinal: The story slowly creeps towards this.
* AlmostDeadGuy: Too often to mention. Probably the most memorable example is [[spoiler: Romano]], hanging on long enough to deliver a [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming heartwarming]] speech to [[spoiler: [[VitriolicBestBuds Spain]].]]
* AmbiguousEnding: ''The Rules'' ends with [[spoiler: bombs mysteriously going off around the world]], several nations still trapped on the island, at least one character possibly dead and no explanation whatsoever for the goings-on. Justified, in that there's an upcoming sequel.
* AnyoneCanDie: And everyone does. The only question is who gets to [[{{Back from the Dead}} come back]].
* ApologeticAttacker: Japan.
* AndThereWasMuchRejoicing: Subverted – Spain, Romano and Italy celebrate with a puddle-drinking party not because [[spoiler: Austria's dead, but because his death allowed Hungary to get home safely.]]
* AscendedExtra: The narrator of the first chapter of ''Break Out'' is [[Manga/HetaliaBloodbath2010 Bartholomew Workbitch]].
* BackForTheDead: On more than one occasion, a character will come back to life at the beginning of a chapter, only to be killed again by the end.
* BackFromTheDead: Basically everyone. The question is, for how long?
* BerserkButton:
** Italy pushes Germany's by inadvertently spitting in the latter's beer.
** Remember the Hetalia episode that says when it comes to food, Japan shows no mercy? [[spoiler: Poland pushes this one.]]
* BittersweetEnding: Many of the nations have gotten home safely and all are working hard to rescue their fellows, but the immortality may be gone, several characters are insane, traumatized or possibly dead, and the survivors are no closer to finding the island. Then [[FromBadToWorse it gets worse]]... Time will only tell if this trope applies to the series as a whole.
* BleedEmAndWeep:
** Justified and sort-of-subverted with Liechtenstein, who is very shaken during and after shooting [[spoiler: Russia]]. Subverted because [[spoiler: she dies anyway, while not managing to bring him down]]. Justified because she'd recently experienced violent death for the first time and hated to bring it upon anyone else.
** This trope is completely averted with Belarus and Hungary, both of whom kill male characters with no remorse whatsoever.
* BloodierAndGorier: You know it's headed this way when a character is killed by repeated clubbing to the head in the prologue. It only gets worse from there.
* BodyHorror: The gradually deteriorating state of the resurrected nations' bodies definitely counts as this. Examples include [[spoiler: Spain]] finding a maggot crawling in his skin and [[spoiler: Canada ripping off his own jaw to use as a weapon]].
* BolivianArmyCliffhanger: The nations' immortality may or may not be gone, and [[spoiler: explosions are going off around the world]].
* BonusMaterial: The final chapter supplies a timeline, a list of who has killed who, explanations for the chapter titles and some information on the sequel.
* CameBackWrong / InhumanHuman: As the nations' immortality starts to wane, their resurrected bodies become more and more decomposed, to the point at which [[spoiler: zombie!Canada can rip off his own jaw]].
* ChokeHolds: America ends up applying both styles to [[spoiler: England]] in an attempt to stop the latter's mental breakdown. [[spoiler: But it looks like the hunger-weakened England died from the Blood Choke.]]
* {{Cliffhanger}}: The ending of ''The Rules'', as well as many chapters.
* CrazyPrepared: Sure, they were only going to a meeting, but some of the nations just felt like bringing along masses of food, weaponry, and other things that prove to be useful. ([[JustifiedTrope Of course, knowing how some of those meetings go...]])
* CruelAndUnusualDeath:
** Hungary, England, America, Estonia, and Latvia all die from being clubbed repeatedly over the head with a blunt metal object.
** [[spoiler: Estonia has his throat sawed open with Canada's rotting jaw.]] If that's not cruel and unusual, I don't know what is.
* DarkFic
* DarkerAndEdgier
* DeathByAdaptation: Everyone who dies, regardless of if it's permanent or not, qualifies as this, given the vastly LighterAndSofter nature of Axis Powers Hetalia.
* DeathByFlashback: [[spoiler: England]] has several flashbacks about [[spoiler: America's childhood]] before he is killed off in one of the last chapters. Possibly subverted, in that it's unclear whether or not he's dead for real.
* DeathIsCheap: ''Heavily'' played with--while it would normally be in effect, well...just take a look at the last "Rule" on the list. The nations are stuck with quite the ethical dilemma--start killing now while they can be reasonably confident their victims will recover, or try to find some other way off the island and risk everyone's immortality running out in the meantime?
* TheDogBitesBack: Canada, sick of being ignored by the rest of the world, snaps. It does not end well for anyone.
* DoomMagnet: Italy starts to see himself as one when things go from bad to worse. Justified by Spain explaining that, as Italy runs around so much, he encounters more nations and thus witnesses more deaths than the average person.
* DuelToTheDeath: Quite often.
* DwindlingParty: A lighter variation: the amount of nations on the island is decreasing, not because more and more are dying (they are, but they keep coming back to life) but because more and more are sending themselves home.
* DyingDeclarationOfLove: Platonic version; [[spoiler: a dying Romano remarks to Spain and Italy]] that he "doesn't actually hate [them]."
* EverythingFades: A rare non-video game example: items belonging to the characters, such as food, weapons and even clothing, fade away and reappear in the meeting room when they're discarded. The surviving nations use these to keep tabs on their stranded counterparts, and Estonia eventually realizes [[spoiler: he can send a message back to them this way]].
* FaceDeathWithDignity:
** Quite a few of the characters who allow Japan to kill them, including [[spoiler: Poland, Estonia, Liechtenstein and China]].
** [[spoiler: Poland]] actually pulls this off twice – once for [[spoiler: Japan]] and once for [[spoiler: Lithuania]]. It helps that the characters were not certain they would actually die or not.
** Presumably [[spoiler: Austria and Hungary]] did this during their mutual kill.
* GetItOverWith: [[spoiler: Estonia]] to Japan.
* HeroicSacrifice:
** [[spoiler: Poland]], of all people, persuades his friend [[spoiler: Lithuania]] to kill him so that he can get back home. The impact is slightly lessened by the fact that the immortality wasn't gone by that point.
** [[spoiler: China]] does the same thing for [[spoiler: Japan]].
** Subverted with [[spoiler: Austria and Hungary]], who agree to kill each other at the same time, risking their lives for the other while still giving themselves a shot at survival. [[spoiler: Hungary ends up getting sent home from this – but Austria doesn't stay dead.]]
* HowDareYouDieOnMe:
** Romano to a dead [[spoiler: Spain. Fortunately for him, Spain comes back.]]
** America has feelings like this towards everybody on the island, mentally berating them for dying when he's supposed to be able to save them.
* ICallHerVera: Switzerland calls his guns Urs and Verena.
* ImmortalHero: The entire cast, at first.
* InTheBack: How [[spoiler:France]] kills [[spoiler: Spain]].
* InvoluntaryBattleToTheDeath: The entire premise.
* KillTheOnesYouLove:
** The nations begin to suspect this is the case after several instances of it get people sent home. It turns out [[spoiler: they're only half-right. Some characters – Germany, Lithuania, France, Hungary and America – have to kill loved ones – Japan, Poland, Spain, Austria and England respectively – but in other cases it's completely random]].
** [[spoiler: Japan]] also kills [[spoiler: China]] before realizing this trope doesn't apply to his situation.
* KillEmAll
* KillTheCutie: Seeing as every character on the island dies at least once, all the 'cuties' technically apply.
* LastEpisodeNewCharacter: Not technically a "new" character, since he's in the Hetalia canon, but Denmark shows up in the last chapter without so much as a mention previously.
* LaughingMad: [[spoiler: France]] has a brief burst of this after killing [[spoiler: Canada and China]].
* LockedOutOfTheLoop: Germany kept Norway, Denmark and presumably Iceland in the dark about the island so that the search party wouldn't be distracted by magic-related theories. This possibly extends to Romania as well.
* LoveMartyr: Lithuania is so head-over-heels in love with Belarus that he refuses to believe anything bad about her – even after [[spoiler: she kills him in cold blood]].
* MurderByMistake: When the Baltics are being chased by Russia, Latvia throws a knife at a figure in the bushes, under the impression that it is their pursuer. It's [[spoiler: [[OhCrap Romano]].]]
* MutualKill / TakingYouWithMe: Too many times to count.
* NoHuggingNoKissing: The author maintained firmly that she would not include shipping simply to please the fanbase. The only romance is either heavily one-sided (Belarus/Russia, Lithuania/Belarus) or merely hinted at (Austria/Hungary).
* OffWithHisHead: [[spoiler: France]] kills [[spoiler: Canada and China]] this way. He tries to kill [[spoiler: Spain]] that way too, but has to settle with [[InTheBack another way]].
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: Italy saying he hates someone? Japan backstabbing his friends? Canada [[spoiler: going completely insane and murdering everyone he comes across]]? [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking The Allies actually getting along?]] That's when you know things are dead serious.
* PortalDoor: The door from the meeting building gets to be one in the prologue.
* RussianGuySuffersMost: Surprisingly averted for a Hetalia story. Russia doesn't die nearly as often as some of the other nations, and [[spoiler: gets to go home with little suffering on his part]]. Although, he is the first nation to [[spoiler: feel the effects of the bombs at the end…]]
* SanitySlippage: Several nations, especially [[spoiler: Canada]].
* WhamEpisode: Quite a few chapters serve as this.
* WhiteAndGreyMorality: Despite the massive amount of bloodshed in the story, none of the nations slide beyond AntiVillain at worst. Many of them don't even attempt to kill to get home, and the ones who do are either highly conflicted and remorseful, acting in self-defence or with the permission of their victims, or simply too insane to realize the weight of what they're doing. What's more, the characters spend a long time believing the immortality isn't waning or just isn't gone yet, so they don't see their actions as being permanent.
* YouMonster: Romano to Japan, complete with ClusterFBomb, after the latter [[spoiler: kills Spain and is about to kill him]].
* YouShallNotPass: [[spoiler: Switzerland]] dies this way, refusing to allow Japan to get to [[spoiler: Liechtenstein]].