"The eyes of a reevar are drawn to light. They cannot look away."
The sage's words replayed themselves inside his head. He threw the ball down the hill--the one that blinked each time it bounced--and prayed that the reevar would look away for just one second.
It did--his only opening. His sword swung whistling through the air.
Tentacles grabbed him by the leg and dragged him toward an open mouth of humongous teeth. The horrible smell of its breath made him start to vomit. It paused, curious as to this never-before-seen behavior. It admired him, turning him every which way and suspending him to see if he would do it again. He did.
The creature made a sound that was half like a warble and half gurgle. It set him on the ground again and patted him on the head with one clumsy limb, then left abruptly.
It was gone. He tried his best to survey the valley and see if the way he'd come (now buried in loose shale) could be unblocked. He dug away several loose pieces and with some persistence made the path usable. So much for reward money, he thought. If only he weren't so desperate to pay the doctor bills for his best friend's ailing father.
The ground rumbled. One, two, five, ten...fifteen reevari were following the first one! They were coming straight at him! He made a desperate dash up the newly cleared exit but was caught by the leg.
All of them sat down in unmonsterly order and formed an audience while the first reevar shook him and gurgled.
"Put me down, please!" he said.
Sixteen reevari roared disapprovingly. The first reevar shook him again and warbled.
"I can't do it again," he explained. "My stomach's empty."
More shaking followed. The audience was getting restless, and some were opening and closing their circular hungry mouths.
He hated to do it, but he reached for the only comfort he felt he had left: cigarettes. He'd been trying to quit. He lit one up, difficult while up-side-down, and began puffing greedily on what might very well be his last.
"Oooh," the reevari warbled. The first reevar put him down and gargled proudly, taking credit for the wonderful display.
He got an idea. Quickly he pulled the somewhat crushed remainders from his pockets, lit them all at once, and passed them out to the reevari, who, imitating him, puffed on them heartily to see the ends light up like coals. The smoke made them cough, but their fervor for light was indomitable and drove them to keep at it. When the ends burned down to the filters they promptly ate them. Then all the reevari curled up for a nap, snoring loudly, and our hero crept away.