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The Gates of Hell have opened...
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To Rule Them All: A Lord of the Rings ISOT is a The Lord of the Rings fanfic written by Severak, first appearing on AlternateHistoryDotCom, later being cross-posted to SpaceBattles here (as well as Spacebattles' sister site Sufficent Velocity here), FanfictionDotNet here and ArchiveofOurOwn here. It is a reboot of a classic AH.com thread (found Here). Unfortunately, that version of story was never completed, becoming a Dead Fic in 2012. Five years later, a writing challenge was posted on Alternate History to reboot the story, resulting in the new version, which was launched on March 12, 2017.

On January 25th, TA 3019, Gandalf and the Balrog stand at Durin's Tower, having fought each other for the previous 10 days. In canon, Gandalf slays the Balrog before dying himself (and later being revived). Here, however, the two combatants instead become so desperate to destroy each other that they release all of their powers as Maiar at once, causing several parts of Middle-earth (see the map) to be magically transported to Earth in January of 1200 AD, on the eve of the Fourth Crusade.

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What follows is a War between Europe and the forces of Hell itself, with the fate of the world at stake.

Tropes

  • Adaptation Expansion: The new version of the story adds Erebor, Mirkwood and Lorien to the ISOT, dropping them near Kiev, in Iberia and in northeastern Italy respectively. After Galadriel's duel with the Balrog, it also adds Pelargir and Dol Amroth (Crete), the Withered Heath (Norway), and various legendary creatures and artifacts from earth's history.
  • All Myths Are True: After the Galadriel/Balrog duel, the various legends of Humanity start becoming real.
  • Allohistorical Allusion: Well, Allo-Canonical Allusion: The Fall of Krakow plays out very much like the battle of Helm's Deep (holding the city wall against a force mainly using siege ladders, the women and children escaping through a cave system, the leader of the defenders launching a desperate final attack to buy time for the escape), except that The Cavalry doesn't come to their rescue.
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  • Always Second Best: How John sees his relationship with his late brother, Richard the Lionheart. He hopes to avert this by winning glory in the Crusade.
  • Artistic License – Geography: some liberties are taken with the layout of medieval cities. Word of God claims that this is due to a lack of accurate maps.
  • The Atoner: Maglor is set up to be one of these.
  • Author Appeal: Dramatic Irony. The examples listed below are just the "in-your-face" ones.
  • Barbarian Hero: Konchek of the Cumans seems to be being set up to become one of these.
  • Big Bad: Sauron, of course.
  • Big Good: Severak seems to be shaping the pair of Pope Innocent III and Gandalf the White into this.
  • Brown Note: as in canon, the cries of the Nazgul, which are enough to cripple practically everyone defending Krakow in a matter of seconds.
  • Butt-Monkey: On a national level: Several commenters have pointed out that Poland is once again the first country to be destroyed by a rising threat, in this case being the first nation to be overrun by Mordor.
  • The Cavalry: Multiple times during the Second Battle of Five Armies, first by Faramir and the Rangers, then by Stefan of Serbia, and finally by Kulin of Bosnia.
  • Cliffhanger: "The End of the Beginning" ends with Galadriel and the Balrog about to face off in an Ultimate Showdownof Ultimate Destiny.
    • The next chapter ends with the Second Battle of Five Armies in full swing, a clear victor not yet determined.
    • And the one after that ends with the duel between Galadriel and the Balrog ending in a draw, with the world seemingly breaking again.
  • Compelling Voice: Saruman has one, which allows him to talk down the army of Thomas of Savoy.
  • Continuity Reboot: The Severak version to the original.
  • The Corrupter: Sauron, as in Canon. Saruman acts as one as well.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Nienna gives one of these to Maglor to inspire him to be her Champion.
  • Dark Lord: Sauron, natch.
  • Defiant to the End: The last handful of Men trapped in Krakow launch a doomed final attack rather than be slaughtered.
    • When trapped with trapped with no aid during the early phases of the Second Battle of Five Armies, Andrew's Hungarians start fighting like this. Then The Cavalry shows up.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Faramir worries about his men crossing this, which is a big part of why he choses to defend the people of Hungary against the orcs.
    • In the buildup to the Second Battle of Five Armies, Emeric seems to be drawing dangerously close to this. He pulls back after the seemingly-miraculous ending to the Battle.
    • Alfonso of Castile also starts contemplating suicide after losing most of his family, along with roughly half of his Kingdom, to the ISOT.
  • Deus ex Machina: The title of the chapter where the Second Battle of Five Armies is resolved: Khamul is pulled away from the battle by Sauron, who orders him to scout out Lorien instead, allowing the Balkan troops to turn the tide of battle. Played With, because the reason that Lorien needs to be scouted (Galadriel's duel with the Balrog breaking the world again) was well set-up in the previous chapter, but from the perspective of the Balkan Lords it remains firmly this trope.
  • Divine Intervention: Eru/God is a lot more open about this than they are in canon. It's heavily implied several times that they are actively working to make sure several people are in the right place, such as Dominic going to Thranduil and Gandalf making it to Rome.
    • Similarly, a woman that is all but stated to be Yavanna appears to Konchek of the Cumans to warn him about Sauron's spreading influence.
    • In "Arise from Slumber," Nienna and Vaire pretending to be the Lady of the Lake appear to Maglor and John of England respectively.
    • Tulkas pops up to Alfonso of Castile in "Three Beginnings" to give some aid to Alfonso of Castile.
  • Dramatic Irony: Muhammad believes that he'll be able to hold back the forces of Dol Guldur as long as the full might of the Almohads can be used against them, unaware that the regent in charge of his African holdings has been given a ring by Sauron.
    • Used repeatedly with the Balkan Lords, most of whom think about how easy it will be to defeat each other in battle, all while an army from Mordor is bearing down on them.
    • Used again with Saphadin, who thinks about how the only thing that can undermine his efforts to stabilize the Ayyubids is a demonic army marching out of Arabia.
  • The Dreaded: The Balrog, the Nazgul and especially Sauron get this treatment in-universe.
    • Gandalf is referred to as a Good version of this in the Pope's Letter.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Used thrice so far: Pope Innocent III is given a vision by Eru/God that Foreshadows much of the plot. Likewise, the canonical Mirror of Galadriel is used to show glimpses of coming events.
    • Played With by the vision given to Konchek of the Cumans, which serves more a as a general warning, and doesn't show the future, instead showing him the events currently unfolding in Poland and Hungary.
    • Stefan Nemanja also receives a vision of his sons just before his death, although the audience themselves is not shown it.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: According to Word of God, this will always be averted: Severak claims that no major characters will die in this way.
  • Enemy Mine: A brewing Balkan War between Hungary/Bosnia and Bulgaria/Serbia is broken up before it starts when Mordor attacks.
  • Fallen Hero: Maglor, as described in the TheSilmarillion. As referenced above, however, they have been given the chance to become The Atoner instead.
  • Fatal Flaw: Sauron, surprisingly, has a major one: he's noted In-Universe by several figures implied to the Valar that he doesn't perform well when forced to improvise, resulting in several cases of Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!.
  • Glory Seeker: implied to be the reason that Philip II of France and John of England join the Crusade, although its much more true for John than Philip.
  • God Guise: More specifically, Demon Guise: The various horrors of Mordor are largely believed to be the Legions of Hell by the inhabitants of Europe, with Sauron being the Devil.
    • The Elves also get this to an extent, with various characters believing that they are angels.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: The Valar have this problem: it's stated that if they directly intervene, the entire world will shatter do to their presence finishing off the already-damaged fabric of reality so they're limited to indirect aid.
  • The Heavy: The Nazgul act as this for Sauron, as in Canon.
  • Heroic BSoD: Leszek spends the first half of the Fall of Krakow in one, before coming out of it and killing a troll almost single-handedly.
  • He's Back: Leszek gets a small one during the Fall of Krakow, coming out of the Heroic BSoD mentioned above.
    • Gandalf has another small one, fighting off a Nazgul that attacks him and Gwaihir en route to Rome.
    • The Balrog gets its own when it takes complete control of Moria and uses the orcs there as an army to attack Lorien.
  • Historical-Domain Character: The far majority of the European Cast; the only two exceptions within the first dozen-or-so Chapters are two minor characters introduced during the Fall of Krakow, only one of which (a farmer-turned-conscript) gets a POV.
  • Honor Before Reason: Possibly. Leszek stays behind to lead the final defense during the Fall of Krakow, despite there being no real reason for him to do so. It's left ambiguous as to why he doesn't leave while he still can, although it's suggested that it might be in order to Atone for spending a large part of the battle in a Heroic BSoD.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Leszek the White expresses this sentiment while ordering one final attack during the Fall of Krakow.
  • King in the Mountain: Leszek becomes one after the duel between the Balrog and Galadriel.
  • Kissing Cousins: A historical example: Alfonso of Castile's daughter Berengaria is married to his nephew, Alfonso of Leon.
  • Legions of Hell: as mentioned above, these are what the people of Europe believe the forces of Mordor are.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Starting to approach this, especially as the War with Mordor begins to spread further and further and more and more nations are drawn in.
  • The Magic Comes Back: Due to Galadriel's duel with the Balrog, the pieces of Arda that have been grafted onto Earth are starting to allow magic and legendary creatures into the world, drawn from Earth's mythology.
  • The Man Behind the Man: In a Heroic Example, it's heavily implied that Eru Iluvatar (who is according to Word of God also the Abrahamic God) is this to Pope Innocent III and Gandalf the White.
  • Mighty Roar: The Balrog has one, capable of splitting stones and uprooting trees.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Sauron pulls Khamul away from the Second Battle of Five Armies, despite the latter still being more than able to crush the remaining resistance from the Balkan Lords, ordering the Nazgul to go to Lorien immediately to scout out the aftermath of Galadriel's duel with the Balrog. This leads directly to the Host of Mordor's defeat at the Second Battle of Five Armies.
  • No-Sell: What Galadriel is described as doing during her duel with the Balrog, blocking every single attack against her without breaking a sweat.
    • Before that, there's the setup to their duel: When the Balrog shows up on her doorstep with a massive army of orcs and trolls, what does Galadriel do? Calmly walk out to challenge a being that recently nearly killed Gandalf, proceeding to not even flinch as the Balrog unleashes a Mighty Roar that is powerful enough to uproot trees and split rock.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. There are two Philips, two Conrads and two Alfonsos. Played With by Stefan of Serbia's father Stefan Nemanja: said father is referred to by his monastic name of "Simeon" more often than not, and he dies of old age at the end of his introductory scene.
  • Only Sane Man: Stefan of Serbia, and to a lesser extent Kulin of Bosnia, towards the rest of the Balkan Lords. Archbishop Conrad towards Philip of Swabia and Otto of the House of Welf.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: In an aversion of Politically Correct History, Fundamentalist Muslim Muhammad allows his Jewish population to be scapegoated for the sudden appearance of Mirkwood within his borders, rounding them up and throwing them in prison.
  • Power Glows: Both Galadriel and the Balrog pull this during their duel.
  • Reality Warper: Galadriel and the Balrog are described as being low-level ones during their duel. The next chapter claims that they're not this, but that their magic is reaggravating the pre-existing wounds caused by the duel between Gandalf and the Balrog.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Conrad of Wittlesbach gives a short one to Philip of Swabia and Otto of the House of Welf when trying to negotiate a truce between them, pointing out that their squabble for the throne means nothing if Sauron destroys the HRE.
    • Dominic of Osma has a very brief outburst towards Thranduil when the latter says that he'd deny aid from Castille.
    • Constance of Aragon briefly explodes on Andrew of Croatia when the latter more-or-less declares himself King of Hungary, a title that belongs to the former's husband.
    • Stefan of Serbia's first Rousing Speech starts out like this, as he starts calling out his troops for abandoning Andrew's Hungarians without a fight.
    • A figure implied to be Vaire by WOG is actually Vaire pretending to be the Lady of the Lake gives a scathing one to John of England. Played With later in the same chapter by Maglor, who gives himself a "Reason I Suck" speech.
  • Red Baron: Several of them.
    • Sauron has been called The Dark Lord, the Enemy, the Abhorred.
    • The Balrog in Moria is The Nameless Terror, Durin's Bane, the Last of the Balrogs.
    • Even the One Ring itself has gotten several of these: In Innocent's letter, it is referred to multiple times as "The One That (Does Some Horrible Thing to the Enemies of Sauron)."
    • Speaking of the Pope's Letter, his full official title is used in the introduction. It's rather impressive.
    • John of England has an inversion, with several derisive nicknames such as "Lackland" and "Softsword" given to him to his less-enthusiastic subjects.
  • Religious Bruiser: Stefan of Serbia seems to be shaping up to be this.
  • Risking the King: King Emeric of Hungary, Grand Prince Rurik of Kiev and Count Thomas of Savoy all lead personal expeditions into the ISOTed lands that appear near their realms. It works out differently for all three of them.
  • Rousing Speech: Severak really seems to like having people make these, especially ones about how God is on the side of the Europeans and how they should fight even if the odds are utterly impossible.
    • Subverted by Leszek's final speech, which amounts to "It Has Been an Honor, now let's all go out and die on our own terms."
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Most of the nobles that have shown up so far in the story.
    • Averted with Alexios III Angelos of the Byzantine Empire, who more-or-less completely ignores all the stories of the Legions of Hell on Earth (doing absolutely nothing to prepare for the coming war), and then is almost immediately corrupted by Sauron.
    • Also Averted with Rurik of Kiev, who starts out as something of a Reasonable Authority Figure...and then stumbles across Smaug's Corpse, which almost immediately results in his corruption.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Poor Leszek the White.
  • Shout-Out: Robin Hood gets a reference from John of England when the latter is complaining about disloyalty among his subjects.
    • King Arthur is also brought up several times later in the same scene.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Stefan Nemanja dies in his introductory scene, but spends it setting up his son Sava's subplot.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Stefan of Serbia, a Sacrificial Lamb in the original version of the story, is spared in the new version. Inverted with Leszek the White, who dies here instead of having a Fate Worse than Death as he had in the original.
  • Succession Crisis: Three of them, although only two are (so far) relevant to the plot:
    • The largest of the three is between Philip of Swabia and Otto of the House of Welf, both of whom are trying to become Holy Roman Emperor.
    • There's a brewing one in Hungary, where Emeric's disappearance has given his brother Andrew the chance to claim the throne. It does not end when Emeric reappears, with the two forced into Teeth-Clenched Teamwork more than anything.
    • And finally, there's a briefly mentioned dispute about the English throne, between John and Arthur of Brittany, although this last one is more-or-less resolved by the time that the story starts.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Several examples, most of them short outbursts:
    • Constance of Aragon, towards Andrew of Hungary (as mentioned above).
    • Dominic of Osma does this to Thranduil, again as a brief outburst of frustration.
    • Maglor does this as well, when trying to convince Nienna that he can't be her Champion.
  • Tempting Fate: See Dramatic Irony above.
  • Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: During their duel, the narrative spends several paragraphs listing off Galadriel and the Balrogs respective accomplishments.
    • "the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, and Servant of the Servants of God," aka The Pope's full title.
  • Ultimate Showdownof Ultimate Destiny: One is set up between Galadriel and the Balrog towards the end of the first story arc. It seems to end in a tie, with reality breaking again as a result.. Also, at a more macro level, all of medieval Europe (plus a few factions from Middle-earth) versus the full might of Sauron.
  • Villainous Rescue: The Second Battle of Five Armies, for a given definition of villain: Andrew and his army are rescued from Mordor's forces by an army of Bulgars and Serbs, who are the people that Andrew was actually expecting to fight.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: starts showing up as the Christian Kingdoms begin coming together to fight Mordor, most obviously between Philip of Swabia and Otto of the House of Welf in the HRE and in the Balkans, where there are half-a-dozen major players with varying levels of authority trying to work together.
  • Wham Episode:"The Angel and the Demon": Galadriel and the Balrog duel each other, resulting in the world breaking even further. This is followed by:
    • "Deus Ex Machina": a group of beings implied to be the Valar discuss the results of the previous chapter, revealing that not only have more pieces of Arda come to Earth, but many of Earth's legends are now starting to come true...
  • Young Future Famous People: Several of them. The future Saints Dominic of Osma and Sava have both made appearances, and Word of God has confirmed that Francis of Assisi has a critical role to play in the future.

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