The wind whipped around at them as Thor flew through the air, holding Loki in his grasp. The air was driven from his lungs as Thor slammed his body down into the rocky ground of the cliff, and he could not help the groan he let out. Every fiber of his being ached presently, and yet, a laugh still fell from his lips. Thor did not seem to appreciate his humor, glaring down at him, blue eyes intent.
"Where is the Tesseract?" his older brother demanded.
"Ah, I missed you, too," Loki chuckled.
"Do I look to be in a gaming mood?" Thor snapped. His tone was clipped and harsh. Loki leaned his head back on the rough earth, panting, before he pushed himself into a sitting position.
"You should thank me. With the Bifrost gone, how much Dark Energy did the Allfather have to muster to conjure you here to your precious Earth?" he asked.
Loki was about to rise to stand up when Thor dropped his hammer to the ground with a dull thud and grabbed onto his arm roughly, jerking him up. Thor's hand latched onto the back of his neck, holding him in place and forcing him to look into his eyes. There was an amount of rawness in his brother's expression that made him uncomfortable to witness.
"I thought you dead," Thor said.
"Did you mourn?" Loki asked quietly.
"We all did. Our father-" Thor began. Loki raised up a finger to stop him, and stop he did, staring at him.
"Your father," he corrected. Thor released the back of his neck, and Loki stepped away from him, walking around his older brother. "He did tell you my true parentage, did he not?"
Loki rubbed a particularly sore part of his back as he continued pacing forward, wincing slightly now that his face was out of Thor's sight.
"We were raised together. We played together. We fought together. Do you remember none of that?" Thor demanded. He walked after him. The Trickster turned around to give him a nonplussed look.
"I remember a shadow. Living in the shade of your greatness," Loki said. "I remember you tossing me into an abyss. I, who was and should be king."
"So you take the world I love as a recompense for your imagined slights?" Thor asked. Imagined slights? "No, the Earth is under my protection, Loki."
Loki let out a laugh at his words.
"And you're doing a marvelous job of that," he said dryly. "The humans slaughter each other in while you idly fret. I mean to rule them as why should I not?"
"You think yourself above them?" Thor asked.
"Well... yes," Loki admitted.
"Then, you miss the truth of ruling, brother. A throne would suit you ill," Thor said. Loki curled his lips up to bare his teeth in a slight snarl, and he pushed past Thor, striding back up to the top of the cliff.
"I have seen worlds you've never known about! I have grown, Odinson, in my exile. I have seen the true power of the Tesseract, and when I wield it-" Loki ranted. He was cut off by Thor again.
"Who showed you this power?" Thor asked. He stepped up close to Loki. "Who controls the would be king?"
"I am a king!" Loki snarled.
"Not here!" Thor's hands clamped down on his shoulders, and his body was shaken from the force of it. "You give up the Tesseract! You give up this poisonous dream!" His hand went back to the nape of Loki's neck, holding him still. "You come home," Thor said. His voice came out softer at the end. Loki stared back at him for a moment, thoughts swirling. He let out a small chuckle that ended up sounding a bit helpless.
"I do not have it," Loki told him. Thor growled and summoned Mjolnir to his hand. "You need the Cube to bring me home. But I have sent it off. I know not where."
Thor pointed his hammer at him, anger blooming on his face once more.
"You listen well, brother," he began.
There was a streak of metallic red and gold, and his brother was sent flying off the cliff along with it, whirring past him to the forest below. Loki waited a few seconds more. He heard Thor let out a grunt a good few hundred yards away.
"I'm listening," Loki said.
There was a soft chuckle to the left of him, and he whipped his head to see a woman clad in tattered skintight black armor, chest length obsidian hair wild and unkempt as his own. Her eyes were so green they nearly seemed to glow, much like his own had been before... well. The Enlightening. She gave him a sly smirk and stepped closer, graceful the same way a predator was stalking their prey. Loki blinked at her, a thrum of fear resonating in his core. He was frozen in place.
"It is good that you were, little brother Loki," the woman remarked.
"Who are you?" Loki asked.
"Of course he would not tell you of me. I am Hela," the woman replied. "Odin's firstborn." Her hand snaked out before he could properly process it and react, slim battle worn fingers wrapping tight around his wrist. He could not very well pull away from her without shattering his own bones. "Come. We have much to discuss."
"Surely we can come to an arrangement," Loki said. His heart felt a bit out of rhythm in his chest.
"You sound like him," Hela remarked. She smirked at him.
"I - Thor!" Loki said, his voice rising on his brother's name. He hated having to call out to Thor as though he were a frightened child, but he could sense this Hela's power and the danger she was radiating.
Hela laughed and pulled him closer with a sharp jerk of her arm. His magic had started to lash out just as hers whipped them away from the cliff in a burst of green light. And so the cliff was empty once more.