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Alternate WotIby David Knott
As the point of departure for my variant WotI, I would suggest that the debate in Pandius between Rad and Ixion leads immediately to violence among the Immortals themselves. Rather than involve mortals in a bloody war to eliminate the followers of Rad, Ixion decides to eliminate Rad himself. He orders Ilsundal to dispose of Rad, and Ilsundal successfully does so. The only effect noticed by mortals is that Prince Étienne d'Ambreville disappears and is not seen again for many years, until he is brought back by intervention of the Old Ones as described in _Mark of Amber_. In this variant I will assume that Étienne is succeeded by his widow Catherine, and that she manages to hold the family together until Henri poisons her in AC 1009.
This stroke so weakens the Fellowship of the Star that the Brotherhood of the Shadow throws their full support behind them. Emboldened, Vanya attempts to assassinate Ilsundal but is stopped by Mealiden, whom she successfully destroys. She then retreats to the protection of her allies in order to evade the wrath of Ilsundal. At this point the groups direct their attentions towards the lands that revere their foes.
Since Ixion is revered in Sind, Darokin, and Ethengar and Ilsundal is revered in Alfheim, the Fellowship of the Star launches a threefold attack:
1) The Heldannic Territories (followers of Vanya) invade Ethengar.
2) The Shadow Elves (followers of Rafiel) intensify their campaign to conquer Alfheim.
3) The Master of Hule (a follower of the supposedly neutral Loki) gathers his forces for an attempt to conquer Sind and then Darokin after Loki is recruited into the Brotherhood of the Shadow.
Meanwhile, the Ring of Fire directs their efforts against the followers of Vanya in Thyatis and the Heldannic Territories. Glantri is of little concern to them since Rad has already been destroyed.
The bloodbath among the Immortals can be continued if anyone has ideas for other Immortals to be destroyed, but Rad and Mealiden seem to be enough to get things going.
The first plots to show their effects in the world of mortals are the Shadow Elf plots against Alfheim. These plots are thwarted almost too easily by various adventurers. However, various other events lead to the dispersal of Alfheim Elves throughout the Known World and beyond and leave Alfheim itself unable to defend itself against a later Shadow Elf invasion:
The successful completion of the _Tree of Life_ adventure causes the Feadiel clan to return to the Sylvan Realm. As they settle in, they discover that the forest of the Sylvan Realm is much larger and less crowded than the Canolbarth, so they invite other clans to join them. Many Long Runners accept this invitation, as they see Alfheim as becoming too civilised.
The Erendyl clan officially remains in Alfheim, but many of its members join their Erewan cousins in Glantri.
The Chossums establish lucrative trade partnerships with many nations, especially Darokin, where most of the clan leaders eventually move.
The defeat of the Shadowlord of Denagoth by adventurers in Wendar and the re-establishment of relations with the Elves of the Geffron forest leads many members of the Mealidil clans to move north to assist their distant cousins in rebuilding.
Meanwhile, many Grunalfs are lured to Karameikos when Stefan encourages elven immigration in return for their assistance in teaching magic and maintaining the forests.
Finally, many members of the Red Arrow clan join Darokin's subsequent war with the Master.
AC 1004: By this year numerous incidents between Alphatia on the one hand and Thyatis and the Heldanners on the other hand have greatly increased tension in the Known World. The riot in Thyatis city occurs on schedule, and Alphatians become increasingly belligerent with nearly everyone.
Glantri is not directly involved in this dispute, but the loss of the leadership of Prince Étienne has led to increased squabbling among the remaining Princes. The death of the Alphatian spy and the response to Alphatia's proclamation are unchanged, but with no surviving Immortal having a vested interest in stirring up tensions between Glantri and Alphatia, the crisis quickly blows over.
In Alphatia, General Torenal does disappear, but not because he was murdered -- instead, he has begun his quest for Immortality in the Sphere of Matter.
Finally, the Heldannic attack on Ethengar occurs with the full encouragement of Vanya, who still wishes to strike at Ixion, who is worshipped as Tubak by the Ethengars.
In AC 1005 the Master conquers Sind and invades Darokin, while Alphatia begins conquering Thyatian holdings on the Isle of Dawn. An alliance between Thyatis and the Heldanners is revealed when the Heldanners break off their attack on Ethengar in order to go to the aid of the Thyatians. Before long most of the Known World is drawn into two separate wars. Glantri and Karameikos are among the nations that ally with Darokin, and Ylaruam and Ethengar end up siding with the Master.
This war continues until AC 1006, when the Master is defeated and seemingly destroyed. The Huleans pull back, and, after a couple years of squabbling over the succession, reunify under a new leader. After putting down a revolt in Sind, they turn their attention toward the Savage Coast. Note, however, that the meteor does not strike the Darokin/Glantri border at this time -- I have moved that event later as part of a larger cataclysm.
By AC 1007 it becomes obvious that the apparent destruction of the Master has not ended the wars there. Ylaruam invades Thyatis, Ethengar invades Heldann, and Thar invades Glantri. The plague breaks out in Freiburg as before, and it spreads throughout the world and is intensified by later calamities.
Meanwhile, Alphatia completes its conquest of the Isle of Dawn. As Alphatia prepares to continue its campaign, Ochalea and the Pearl Islands declare their independence, leaving Thyatis to face the coming Alphatian invasion.
The Dark Years
It is in AC 1008, as the Alphatians begin their attacks on mainland Thyatis, that the Dark Years begin with an event that is variously referred to in later years as "Skyfall" or the "Wrath of the Immortals". In the early part of this year many asteroids and meteors are found to be on a collision course with Mystara. The Immortals drop their squabbles to divert as many of these asteroids as they can, but enough still get through to do terrible damage.
The biggest asteroid that gets through barely misses Alphatia, but it still manages to destabilise a nearby geographic fault. The subsequent earthquakes cause Alphatia to sink beneath the waves and causes tidal waves that wipe out many coastal cities. Another asteroid strikes the Darokin/Glantri border, with effects that are already known. Another one strikes the capital of Herath and thereby causes the Red Curse to spread throughout the Savage Coast. So much dust is stirred up that the sun is seldom seen for the next two years, and the few crops that are able to grow are insufficient to feed Mystara. Famine and plague are rampant, and many people fear that the end of the world has come.
It is during these Dark Years that the Alfheim Elves, seeing that their dying forest is no longer worth defending against fresh Shadow Elf assaults, flee to Wendar and Karameikos. Rafiel alters not only the trees of Canolbarth but many of the world's crops so that they can thrive in the nearly continuous darkness that shrouds the world. Naturally, the Shadow Elves take advantage of the situation to conquer Alfheim. These altered plants save many lives during the Dark Years but begin to wither and die when sunlight returns to normal in AC 1010.
During this time the undead are a major menace, as they are able to function freely on most days as well as during the night. I would not even rule out the possibility of mind flayers raiding Mystara at this time, as this would be too good an opportunity for them to pass up.
During this crisis the Immortals are hard at work not only rebuilding Alphatia in the Hollow World but using their magic to reduce the time of this "nuclear winter" to less than two years. Ironically enough, they end up gaining the power for much of their work by tapping into the Nucleus of the Spheres, which in this timeline is never altered. However, they stop tapping into this power in late AC 1009, when they have drained so much energy that they cause a Week of No Magic. This drain is partially reversed over the next year by a novice Immortal who gets a little too close to the Nucleus and is absorbed into it. The morning after this sacrifice, not only does magic return to Mystara but the sun rises and shines brightly for the first time in months. By AC 1010 the world is sufficiently back to normal that the PWAs can be used with very little change.