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It was on the Istere that I encountered him. Our conversation covered a wide range of topics - everything from ancient history to the nature of time.

Admittedly, I was somewhat distant, not entirely present, but that failed to bother him. On the contrary, he unexpectedly toasted our friendship.

That prompted me to peer more closely at him, at which point I was sure I had read his obituary a number of years beforehand, he having been involved in a solo incident.

He corrected my mistake and identified himself, and we parted in good humour, on a handshake, as we docked in my home port.

Later, I spent a long time visiting foreign countries, and as I looked upon their sights without really seeing ... I began to wonder if that obituary had actually been my own.

Who was he?

Hint #1:

Whether or not he actually was, he certainly claimed to be always in control

Hint #2:

Although I was face to face with him, I never actually knew his name. But I could still describe who he was

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  • $\begingroup$ "he having been involved in a solo incident" - rot13(Una fubg svefg)? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Jul 28 '18 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ I like that line of thought, but no, wrong track $\endgroup$ – Mohirl Jul 29 '18 at 1:01
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He was "The Man who Sold the World"

Because

The song by David Bowie fits here perfectly:

We passed upon the stair (Istair)
We spoke of was and when (many topics)
Although I wasn't there (was distant)
He said I was his friend (toasted friendship)
Which came as a surprise (unexpectedly)
I spoke into his eyes (prompted me to look more closely)
I thought you died alone (read obituary/ Solo event)
A long long time ago (number of years beforehand)
Oh no, not me (he corrected my mistake)
We never lost control (first hint)
You're face to face (identified himself / second hint)
With the man who sold the world (identified himself)
I laughed and shook his hand (in good humour on a handshake)
And made my way back home (docked in my port)
I searched for form and land (visiting foreign countries)
For years and years I roamed (long time)
I gazed a gazeless stare (looked upon their sights without really seeing)
We walked a million hills
I must have died alone (I began to wonder if that obituary had actually been my own)
A long, long time ago
Who knows?
Not me
I never lost control
You're face to face (second hint)
With the man who sold the world

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I think this person is

Chronos, the god of time

you met on the Istere

closest translation I found is "ex istere" -> "by god"

You talked about "everything from ancient history to the nature of time".

Topics he's very familiar with

You were "somewhat distant, not entirely present"

Because what is present when you talk to the god of time?

Hint:

Chronos is in control of time

And you are, I think

One of the Fates, incarnations of destiny. This somewhat explains the thing about the obituary. Not sure about it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sorry for the delay replying, I'm a bit swamped this week. Nice fit, but I'm afraid that's not it. It's possibly a bit more lateral thinking $\endgroup$ – Mohirl Aug 1 '18 at 9:37
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Based somewhat on Dotan's answer, I'm going to go with:

Charon, ferryman on the River Styx

"Our conversation covered a wide range of topics - everything from ancient history to the nature of time."

Charon has been ferrying on the river for a very long time, and has met all sorts of interesting people from throughout history.

"That prompted me to peer more closely at him, at which point I was sure I had read his obituary a number of years beforehand, he having been involved in a solo incident."

Charon goes to and from the underworld (land of the dead) on a regular basis.

"He corrected my mistake and identified himself, and we parted in good humour, on a handshake, as we docked in my home port."

"My home port", in this case, refers to my new home, a.k.a. the underworld, where Charon is bringing you to, as you are dead.

"Later, I spent a long time visiting foreign countries, and as I looked upon their sights without really seeing ... I began to wonder if that obituary had actually been my own."

This seems like a reference to Greek mythology of some sort although I'm not familiar specifically with the Greek concept of the underworld enough to get the reference. I do believe there is a concept in Greek mythology concerning that the dead can watch the living, although not interact with them in any way. As for the obituary, based on your meeting with Charon, it probably was your own.

Hint #1:

Charon is in control of the ferry.

Hint #2:

This one I'm not actually sure.

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