For what felt like impossibly long time, as if minutes, hours, days and weeks ticked by in seconds, Jaelnec just sat frozen in place, staring off into space where Annabelle had been just a moment ago, previous to her abrupt departure from the library. The strange numbness stayed within him, lingering in his bones and muscles so that Jaelnec had the odd sensation of suddenly no longer having a body - he could see his body, could see his chest heaving with his breathing and his arms move at his command, but he did not feel them at all. It was as if he was trapped in someone else's body, a mind imprisoned in a nerveless puppet, an automaton without purpose or feeling. The only thing that helped Jaelnec battle the madness rising in his consciousness, as his very being refused to accept this unfeasible state of existence, was the faint ache of his right hand. He could barely even feel that anymore, but little slivers of pain managed to penetrate the numbness and prove to him that he still existed, that he was still a mortal of flesh and blood. But even then the pain was not nearly as great as it should have been. He had heard the bones gruesome orchestra when the paladin had forced them back into place, and he knew that he should have experienced blinding agony, not just a slight sting. He should have been on his knees right know, vomiting from anguish, not sitting impassively staring into space, alienated from his own body.
But as much as the practicalities of the state of his own body bothered him, it was not what had thrown his soul into such turmoil that he found himself unable to act. To his inner eye, the image of Annabelle's face remained fresh and detailed, and his consciousness kept examining what he had seen occur when the paladin had stared so intently into his eyes. The shifting irises, the red glow... and then this unusual effect. He did not know much more about magic aside from what he needed to know in order to fight it, but he was positive that it would take an insanely powerful spell of illusion to induce such a state as the one he found himself in. And Annabelle had done it without even speaking a word that could have been arcane, and her hands had been clutching his face, making it impossible for her to weave symbols with them... she had done this without a spell, and without prayer - though he already knew that no Paladin of Liya had Favored power to do something like this. And her eyes...
His thoughts were so chaotic that he could not even keep up with them himself anymore, and as a thousand questions crowded together in his mind, they all blurred together in an unintelligible mental ruckus, until they all seemed to merge into a single question that ran in an infinite loop in his mind: Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwh atwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat whatwhatwhat?
Sluggishly, the Nightwalker tried to stand, hearing and seeing his legs bumping against the edge of the table, seeing his left hand on the armrest of his chair, witnessing floor and ceiling suddenly switch places as the chair tilted and fell over, him crashing to the ground next to it - seeing and hearing it, but not really feeling it aside from as a distant tickling, as if something was just barely touching the tips of the hairs of his body. His sense of balance was completely gone, it seemed, and moving in general was extremely difficult when he could not feel what he was doing. His right hand helped - it still throbbed, like a beacon in the mist trying to lead him back to the shores of sanity, providing a single connection between his mental and physical selves.
He tried to rise from where he had fallen, and failed, not even getting to his knees before he fell over again, his eyes wide and staring, seeing the faces of those around him fly by as he involuntarily rolled onto his back. His eyes fixed on the flames in the fireplace, and he felt strangely mesmerized by the fact that though his vision grew failing and blurred, he did not feel the burning sensation that usually assailed him when he looked into the light. He mused for a moment, examining the dancing fire, and wondered if Annabelle had granted him a pass into the world of light he had been denied for so long, simply because of his heritage?
Tearing his gaze from the radiant fireplace at last, a big blind spot having formed in his vision, Jaelnec turned his head to look at Aemoten. He tried to speak, but he could not feel his tongue, his teeth, his lips... his words sounded halting and lisping, sometimes sounding entirely different from what they were supposed to.
"Helped me," he managed to say in a manner he figured would be at least partially comprehensible. "Don't understand... but helped. Could have killed. Didn't. Not... bad."
So many thoughts, so many questions, all garbled in his mind. So much he did not understand, so much he had to do, so many responsibilities burdening his young consciousness... It all crashed down on him now, everything he had taken upon himself these last couple of days, all the things he blamed himself for... the exhaustion exploded within him, the mental kind he could still feel, and the physical kind lost to him, and as he closed his eyes weakly, he fell asleep right there on the floor.