Oceania "Teardrop" Otter double-checked the address Hisspan had given her. She hadn't been told directly who lived at the house, but she'd done a little research and found out for herself.
Casually she raised her hand and knocked on the door.
"Come in," came a male voice from inside, and Oceania wasted no time in obeying.
Upon stepping into the foyer, the otter was almost immediately greeted by the house's lone occupant, a Mobian anaconda holding an orange notebook. He offered his free hand for a shake, and she took it.
"You must be Oceania. It's nice to meet you in person at last."
"And you must be Tashako Ana. Likewise."
Taking out his notebook and flipping it to a particular page, Tashako began reading off its contents.
"Oceania Otter, nickname 'Teardrop'. 60 years old, but physically twenty years younger. Roboticized and de-roboticized alongside Wolfen Down. Currently self-employed as an information broker. Views Wolfen and his wife Hisspan as her own son and daughter-in-law, due to having lost her own family on two occasions... my condolences."
Oceania couldn't help but laugh. It wasn't often someone managed to play her own game against her. Small wonder that Hisspan had told her they'd get along well.
"Did Hisspan tell you all that?"
"Indeed she did."
Letting out a small smile, Oceania took out her notepad and began a reading of her own.
"Tashako Ana. Green anaconda; around 20 years old. Renowned throughout the Valley as a gifted storyteller, and stages occasional recitals. Currently in love with Tuscany Garter, and goes on dates with her every Friday evening. Used to be fairly reclusive, but became significantly more outgoing since meeting her."
It was Tashako's turn to chuckle. "I see we'll get along well. Make yourself at home; I'll be right back with something to snack on."
As the anaconda disappeared into the kitchen, Oceania found herself wandering into Tashako's study. One wall of the room was lined with bookshelves stocked with all kinds of books: sci-fi, fantasy, biographies, children's books, dictionaries and encyclopedias, even computer manuals and cookbooks.
Deciding a little extra knowledge wouldn't hurt, the otter picked a reference book off the shelf, sat down, and began to leaf through it. She barely noticed as Tashako came into the room and set a bowl of meat dumplings in front of her.
"You have quite the varied collection of literature here, Tashako," Oceania remarked, finally looking up from her book.
"Thank you. You wouldn't believe how many different places inspiration can come from."
"Including Greek mythology?"
Oceania was referring to the assorted books on that subject Tashako had left out on the desk.
"Yes, actually... the story I'll be telling at my next public recital is going to be an adaption of one of those myths. I'm trying to get as good a handle on the setting and culture as possible."
Finally putting her book down, Oceania picked up a dumpling and popped it into her mouth. It seemed to be cooked pork wrapped in a doughy exterior; the combination was delicious. She chewed it for a moment, then swallowed the remains.
"As practice, I've been re-imagining various people I know in mythical Greece," Tashako continued.
"Oh?" Oceania queried as she took another dumpling. "How do you imagine me?"
"I'm glad you asked. Sit tight and listen while I paint a picture in your mind..."
The Oracle sat on her throne, her eyes closed and arms clasped in meditation. She was a Mobian otter, dressed in a blue-and-green robe with black trim. A small teardrop mark decorated her face, right below her left eye.
Suddenly, she opened her eyes. The gods were informing her of a visitor to her shrine. She wasn't going to complain; her shrine was always open to visitors, and they always brought such wonderful offerings.
Seconds later, a rattlesnake carrying a lute and a bowl of something stepped into view.
"Hello, Rebarus," the Oracle greeted the rattlesnake.
"Rebarus of Athens, traveling bard. On a journey to avenge her deceased husband, and came to me for some much-needed direction, which she seeks to purchase with a bowl of fine fish stew, a recipe from Egypt."
Rebarus smiled. "I suppose I should have expected no less from the all-knowing Oracle."
The rattlesnake placed the bowl on the offering platform. The Oracle stepped down from her throne, lifted the bowl to her lips, and took a taste; it was delicious.
"I accept your offering, Rebarus. Sit down, and I shall tell you what I know of your future."
Rebarus got into a sitting position on the stone floor as the Oracle returned to her throne.
"You will encounter your husband's killer in a tavern in Troy. He'll buy you a drink, but it'll be poisoned, so don't drink it."
"Will I defeat him?"
"At the end of the day, his clothes will be soaked in blood. That is all I shall say."
"...Thank you, Oracle."
As Rebarus turned to leave, the Oracle returned to the bowl of stew to finish it. She had told the bard the truth, but she hadn't told her the WHOLE truth-- she hadn't said WHOSE blood the clothes would be soaked with. She hadn't done so out of cruelty; that was just how an Oracle operated.
"...That was a wonderful description, Tashako. I must find the time to attend your next recital, if your storytelling is going to be that vivid."
"I look forward to seeing you there, Oceania."