"What do you mean -- The same as me?" Rifel quizzed Duncan, gesturing vaguely at the fog.
"What you said earlier... It seemed to imply that because of the fog, you saw nothingness. And because of that nothingness, your mind was fettered with the possibilities of what it could contain. I simply meant to imply that I feel the same as you. Ignorance in important fields is an abomination."
"I see." Rifel said softly. "Is that truly how you feel?"
"Yes, of course. Sometimes what you can't see is more frightening than what's available to the naked eye. There could be anything down there, sir."
"You're not lying solely for my benefit? The knowledge that you will replace me as the fourth triumvir when I die isn't affecting your answer in... any way?"
"Goodness no, Rifel. That's honestly how I feel."
The vulpine took a deep breath, as if a great deal of stress had just been lifted from upon his back. "Well, if you're honest. I must be as well."
Duncan turned to the older male, no longer facing the horizon, but instead towards his teacher. "I don't understand. What do you mean?"
"There is a reason that you didn't know what called you here today. Why The Triumvirate didn't tell you the specifics when they mentioned my inaction."
"Go on." Duncan nodded, as if the motion of his head would urge Rifel to continue. "I expected a surprise, that something was going on here."
This instantly got Valessa more engulfed in the conversation, as the notepad in her paw proceeded to get marked with numerous notable facts. Come on.... she thought. This might be big!
Well, she knew the specifics because of her frequent visits here, though to anyone else this information would surely seem overwhelming and frightening – leaving them to drown in a sea of information without any foreseeable context.
In The Triumvirate's early attempts at introducing plausible deniability, they hired on an unofficial 'fourth triumvir' to carry out the work they deemed to controversial or immoral to conduct by themselves. This included rooting out many of the infantile rebellions and enacting the slaughter of those who had opposed their rule. It was ruthless, of course – but no one knew about this except for a very privileged few, including Valessa, the rebellion, and Rifel and Duncan themselves.
This would in fact not be known to anyone except the two on the cliff and The Triumvirate themselves if Valessa hadn't extracted it at an earlier date. It was rather depressing, Valessa thought. Every normal kin belived The Triumvirate was God, because they had the ability to make their will manifest itself into action while still remaining stagnant in their chambers. None of them knew the truth, they were no more Gods than Valessa herself – they merely had puppets acting in the shadows to make their rule seem absolute. Because the fourth triumvir was a very dangerous job in and of itself for quite obvious reasons, the current hire was always forced to train a replacement to follow them after their inevitable death in the field.
This adequately explained the relationship between Rifel and Duncan, mentor and protege. Valessa could hear sadness in Rifel's words; a male who was tired of doing unspeakable things for the entirety of his life – and she could hear counterpoint eagerness in Duncan; someone who couldn't wait to serve those he thought were God. In ten years, Valessa was almost certain that Duncan would be where Rifel now stood, with his trainee as eager as he was today. That absolutely would happen, a continued and vicious cycle.
The sun seemed to make the white fur of Rifel almost unbearable to look at, lest one be blinded. If Valessa were observing anyone else but him, she would have thought that their fur displayed a sort of majesty. The black fur of Duncan however, made him seem as a shadow to Rifel, insignificant in comparison, only there to tag along. Then, Rifel's next words jerked her back to cognition, along with the realization of how ironic her previous thoughts had been.
"We were told to meet here – because... The Triumvirate desires your death."
Suddenly Rifel's inaction made perfect sense, as did his hesitance when he spoke those words.