Disclaimer: I don't own Loki, Thor, Raveena etc... because all of them could probably blow me up if I said otherwise. Except Snow White. I could totally take Snow White, but I don't really want to claim her either so that is really very moot...


...moooooooot...that word sounds like a confused hybrid sound between a cow and an owl.

In Lukas' mind, there was no doubt whose fault this was. His brother had fallen apart in the most pathetic way after his wife disappeared, drinking his days away, eating when nagged enough, and bathing when physically forced to do so. Lukas should have known that he couldn't expect for his brother to wander off to the taverns and not get into some type of trouble, either a fight with some other drunken moron, passing out in his own vomit, or getting beaten for not being able to pay.

And he had tried, he'd done everything to help his brother recover, but it seemed with his sister-in-law's disappearance, she took the functioning half of his brother's brain with her. There was no helping a man who attempted to drink his body weight in mead who was the size of his brother with as foul a temper. Though he could only imagine what he could have done to earn the attention of the Queen's men, Lukas was sure it was Erik's fault. He had always been talented at tripping into dangerous and deadly situations. Joining the war had been one of them.

And just like that marvelous disaster, Lukas found himself pushing through the crowd of gawkers to stand at his brother's side just as the soldiers were hauling him out of a horse trough. Lukas bent his waist in some shadow of a bow to who was most assuredly the Queen's brother. Everyone in the castle's surrounding villages knew that pale visage.

"Lord Finn, good tidings to you and the House of Her Majesty. Has Her Majesty summoned my brother to do her some service?"

Lukas looked at Finn and ignored the blood-shot glare Erik shot him. Finn's look was scathing enough.

"Indeed she has, though it's no business of yours, filth."

"I beg your indulgence, my lord, but if it concerns my brother, then I argue that it does."

The queen's brother swung his gaze between the two. He saw two men of equal height, and the resemblance stopped there. The elder was broad muscle, filth-straightened blond, and generally unkempt. His brother was lean, curly dark hair, and astonishingly clean. The difference was night and day.

"He's adopted. He is not skilled for the task –"

"But I excel in all the ways that you are sure to need, my lord."

A short, cruel laugh shot out of Finn's mouth, and it remained twisted in a smirk.

"What touching sentiment. Bring them both then."

Finn turned on his heel as the soldiers moved to bind them. Lukas glanced at Erik who now refused to look at him. He could see the tenseness of his jaws as he ground his teeth. So big brother was angry, was he? Likely because he'd put himself into danger right along with him instead of doing the sane, self-preserving thing and pretended as if he didn't know him, maybe even throw a rotten fruit at him for good measure. Erik should know better, of course. Lukas had been following him to certain doom since he'd learned to crawl. It wasn't likely to change.

As they began to lead the brothers after their master, Lukas attempted to lighten his brother's thunderstorm mood.

"My lord, are you quite certain you don't want him to finish his bath? His smell is quite powerful."

"You're no flower yourself, brother."

He smiled, all teeth. "At least I am not manure."

Everyone had heard the stories of the magnificent Queen Raveena. Of her devastating beauty. Of her breathtaking ruthlessness. Of the rumored monstrous rituals she performed. Looking at her now, draped in black, seated atop her throne of wooden skeletons and ravens, one could sense a power radiating from her. It was almost a physical thing, like the air but heavier, harder to breath.

Of course the two brothers ignored her aura entirely and swaggered forward, swathed in chains, and forced to kneel at the point of half a dozen blades. The Queen swerved her sharp gaze from them to Finn who'd paced to her right side.

"You think this a game?"

He turned to her, blinking. "I do not understand."

"Nor do I. You were sent to bring me the huntsman. You bring me two. Am I meant to guess?"

"No, Majesty. This one is the huntsman's brother. He insists that he'd be useful."

The Queen scrutinized her brother a moment longer before she graced Erik with her full attention. At this moment, Lukas felt little desire to turn that predator's gaze his way. In more years than he could recollect, he was reminded of his mother.

"They say that you can find anyone. They say that you have traveled the Dark Forest. You will do so again for me."

"Honored as I am by a royal commission, I have no intention of going to that place for as long I live."

Lukas would have slapped Erik were his hands not tied chain behind his back. There was bravado, and there was suicidal stupidity. The Dark Forest might kill them. The Queen would definitely eviscerate them and mount their heads on pikes in her garden. He could at least try not get them both killed, but Lukas suspected Erik was doing it out of spite.

"Then perhaps we will see to it that you don't live that long."

The corner of Erik's mouth twitched. A fool would think from fear, but Lukas knew the fool to be his brother who actually seemed to find some amusement in their imminent deaths.

"Who would you have us find, Your Majesty?" Lukas bowed while kneeling.

Unlike the moronic drunkard, Lukas could and would try to indulge the egos of those that could kill them at a whim. She didn't turn her glare from his brother as she answered.

"A prisoner escaped. I want her back."

"Why is one prisoner so important?"

Raveena growled, and Lukas could feel it, deep in his chest.

"Forgive me, Highness. I only wished to know at what cost we were to risk our lives to serve you."

She spared him a glance, as though unsure whether he mocked her. His face was all sincerity and humility. Beside him, Erik snickered. Lukas considered examining what problems he had that prompted him to follow his madman of a brother with eyes wide open into deadly situations. Then he decided to ignore his own problems and do the healthy thing and continue criticizing Erik.

"Do you wish for death?"

The Queen had stolen the words from Lukas' very mind.

Eyes on him again, she held up a clawed hand, fingers spread out and drew them together. The soldiers dragged Lukas back and surrounded his brother, spear tips flashing at his neck, back, chest. Lukas could feel his knives cool under his sleeves, and considered how quickly he could maneuver his arms in front of him.

His teeth were bared in something like a smile but feral.

Lukas couldn't help but flinch. He knew the depth of his brother's love for his wife in the way that one knows of the ocean depths. It was beyond him. He knew how her loss had almost destroyed him, for he'd been witness to it. Queen Raveena had not. Yet she knew. She could see it, and in her face was mockery at what she beheld.

"Do you miss your wife?"

Erik's face dropped at her gentle whisper. The pain seeped from his eyes and spread across the way he held his body, arced away from the soldier's blades.

"My power is great. If you find the girl, I will reunite you with your wife. I will bring her back to you. If you do not," Her gaze pinned Lukas. There was a strange light in her eyes, and he couldn't look away, even when his head was yanked back and his neck exposed to a spear's point. "I will send your dear brother to meet your beloved, and promise you a long, wretched life."

Erik grunted an oath as the blade drew a prick of blood from his brother's throat. "I will go so long as my brother is freed."

"No, we go together."

"I forbid you to –"

"Enough!" Raveena's scream must have echoed through the entire village. It rattled through his head still. "You both will go, and when you both return, I will see you rewarded."

Lukas felt no need to tell the Queen what he wished. In those few moments when she'd seized his gaze, he was sure she'd seen every desire that ever possessed him.

If it's not clear, I added 'Loki' to the mix as 'Thor's brother.