Maybe you can use a metaphor to ask some further questions. If it’s something subtle enough, then Starling should be able to answer without giving anything clear away.
The problem is, you’re not very good at metaphors. You understand the basic concept – mostly because Pepper was eager for readers the last time he worked on a manuscript and he loved talking about his new techniques, and you didn’t have the excuse of illiteracy. But you’ve never given much thought to crafting one, deliberately.
Here, you’d be aiming for something that both you and Starling would understand, but no one else would. Animals won’t work, probably; Rivers and Rider would know more about them than you would.
Well. Animals in general. There’s a specific one that you have a little more insight into.
“All right, then,” you say. “Guess it’ll have to wait. Sometimes you can’t do anything until the crow gets back to the roost, after all.”
You’re now Starling, and you think you know what he’s getting at.
It wasn’t long after you first arrived at the swamp. Once you’d settled in a bit, you found the roost, and you had a lot of questions about the crows. And Corvus, as it turned out, had a lot of answers.
You were pretty sure, even at the time, that he was making quite a few of them up. Just guessing. Trying to do what he could to keep you happy.
But more importantly, you remember his answer to one of the questions you asked, about what they did when the crow hadn’t come back yet and they had an important message to send.
What was that, again?
Put out some freshly butchered swamp chicken meat to entice the crow to return. Or was it smoke signals?