They were famous throughout the compound.

The prison guards joked about them, took bets on their verbal battles, and bartered to stand watch outside their cell, sheerly for entertainment. No one could quite figure out why they didn't get along - separately, they were the most polite, friendly, well behave prisoners around.

If you ignored the almost constant escape attempts, of course.

They had been captured in the early spring, when dewdrops in the trees were turned into violent whips that scarred the skin. Fire plumed in the sky, and the ground shook, but when the gas was released into the air they dropped like overripe fruit at Harvest.

It hadn't been too bad at first. Both in too much shock over the capture, too fearful of their fates, to worried there would be a rescue attempt and all would be lost. They rarely spoke to each other, preferring instead to attempt to coerce the guard on duty to release valuable information.

It was easy at first, to give in to her small requests for favors - she was young, and polite, and not a little attractive, and her big blue eyes reminded you of your daughtersistermotherwife and you couldn't bring yourself to say no to a harmless extra blanket, knitting yarn, a few chalks to draw with, paper for a journal and flowers for her cell.

When she pulled the water from her flowers and food to saw through the bars, you realized you probably shouldn't have been so gullible.

"Oh, brilliant. Now they'll watch us even more closely than before."

"Shut up. No one asked you."

"Did you really think it would work? There's no way you could have pulled enough water out of those weeds."

"It's not like I had the best materials on hand!"

"You should learn to be more resourceful."

"I don't see you flying fancy free, Mr. Know-it-all."

"I'm simply waiting for the opportune moment."


The next day his food delivery went awry. Three guards were knocked unconscious before he was apprehended. He was placed in the stocks until his door could be replaced. His return prompted a somewhat less than warm welcome.

"How honored am I, to be blessed with the presence of the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation, come to visit a lowly prisoner like me. I marvel at the short time it took you to regain your throne! Truly, you must be exceptionally skilled in the art of persuasion."

"Very funny."

"What's this? The Crown Prince inside the cell? What could possibly have gone awry?"

"At least I got out of the detention block before I got caught. You didn't even make it out of your cell!"

And so, as summer approached, a one-upmanship contest began. First one would attempt to escape, and then the other. With each failure flaws were pointed out, insults were thrown, and bragging echoed through the halls. What was once entertaining slowly became excruciating. With every day the heat grew worse and like the constant, climbing sun their bickering grew more intolerable. The occasional guard was heard muttering about releasing them, just to get peace of mind. As the war grew more deadly, the prisoners grew more anxious.

And then, one day, they were gone. The puzzled guard who brought their breakfast every day called his supervisor, who called his superior, who called the captain, who called a general, who inspected the two cells with the care of a man likely to lose his life due to incompetence. Nothing was found. No holes, no loose stones, the bars were intact, the window was secure...

Yet somehow, they were gone.

Ghost stories and urban legends grew up. People said the Avatar freed them. People said the Bloodbender somehow made her body able to pass through walls. A rumor grew that the cells had been coated in blood when found. Young soldiers claimed to see shadowy figures haunting the hallways. And distant stories of far away battles describing two people who sounded remarkably similar to the missing prisoners where heard in the market.

Little over a year after the disappearance, the war is over, and you stand in awe as the prisoner you once locked in iron cuffs stands before the nation, a golden crown on his head, a Bloodbender by his side, and the heir to the nation in her womb.