It was a cold winter evening. The wind howled outside. This particular wind was especially chilly, swirling as it did at the top of Mount Oraculous. The single, hazardous winding track that led to the top of the mountain was encased in ice now. Only the hardiest and heartiest of supplicants would venture the journey to see the Oracle of Mount Oraculous.
So he, the Oracle, settled in for his favorite time of year. He had inherited the mantle of his profession from the previous Oracle, who lived to the ripe old age of three hundred and twenty-four. Today he was three hundred and twenty-five, so he felt pretty good about himself. So good in fact that he had invested thousands of gold pieces, fifteen supplicants’ worth of tribute, into making the most amazing birthday cake imaginable. That was this morning, before his party.
Thoughout the afternoon, he had various guests visit him. None of these guests had to traverse the trail up the mountain, alternately flying or teleporting into his castle. The Oracle, always happy to chat with anyone not asking him Questions of Great Import, played the happy host. He served the rarest tea, savoury sweetmeats, and of course his wondrous birthday cake.
After the last guest had blinked out of his parlour towards home, the Oracle tidied up. He noted that he had served all but one large slice of the Birthday Cake of the Ages to his guests, who had all oohed and ahhed and complimented him on the confection. It was quite a coup, of course, but the Oracle had been looking forward to having a bite of the cake himself. He was much too gracious a host to have any of the Amazing Cake before he was sure he had enough to feed all his guests. Now, with his hostly obligations at an end, he could indulge.
Leaving the Final Slice on his parlour table, the Oracle cleared the teacups away and went to his rooms. Off came his Oracular Finery, his Mystic Hat, his Belt of All-Knowing and his Boots of Light Treading. He slipped on his most comfortable silken nightgown and his soft leather sandals.
Striding out of his rooms, the Oracle passed through the larder for his secret stash of secret coffee. He had precious little of it left, and no more could be had as the clandestine technique to creating the grounds had passed from the world with its creator.
In the kitchen, he brewed the coffee to exact specifications. The mindbending aroma wafted through the chamber, and the Oracle salivated. Taken with the Most Anticipated Cake, it would be a snack to remember.
He carefully carried the steaming mug of java to his parlour, along with his personal Golden Fork. The Fork was a gift from the Prince of Tidalis, for when the Oracle revealed to him the maiden that would be his Queen. That eventually ended in tragedy, but the Oracle offered no warranties on his revalations. He had answered the Prince’s question, what the Prince did with the information was not his business or responsibility.
The Oracle swept into the parlour, eyes on his velvet-cushioned chair. He set his mug down and turned to pick up the plate with his cake.
All he found was an empty plate. Not a single crumb of the cake was in evidence. The china was clean, gleaming even. The only evidence that anyone had been there was a pair of furry white flip-flops, each fashioned with the head of a bunny, arranged meticulously beside each other.
The Oracle looked around. No one could enter his castle without his leave. Teleports would fizzle, flyers would be turned back by the winds and wards. There was no way in, and no way out without his knowing.
Yet his Slice of Heaven was gone, and there were flip-flops here that did not belong to him.
So began the Mystery of the Missing Cake.
Who am I you ask? I, or rather we, are The Bunny Flip-Flops. How we found our way into the parlour of the Oracle, and what happened to the final slice of the Birthday Cake to End All Birthday Cakes, is a tale for another time.