After many days of study, Douglas was almost completely certain that the spell inscribed on the box would open it. In some fashion, anyway. He understood the dimensions of the spell quite clearly, and the runes he was uncertain about seemed to be related to space and extradimensionality. There was a small chance that the box would be removed from existence if he used the spell, or at least shunted off to a different dimension of reality where he couldn’t interact with it. However, he didn’t see any chances of it exploding or anything else of the sort. Given the tight constraints on the area and the power, it should open up and reveal something inside. That might have just been his assumption that the boxy shape was a box and not just a rectangular prism with nothing inside.
In the very worst case… the box was removed from existence and air rushed to fill the space, creating a loud noise that would shatter any nearby glass. He didn’t think it would be enough to cause permanent hearing damage, but he would try to be not too close to it when he used the spell… just in case.
As a consequence of those thoughts, Douglas had decided he would use magic again. It may have seemed like a leap. Couldn’t someone else use the spell instead of him? The answer was no. Of course, the same was the case for Douglas himself at the moment. It didn’t seem like it would require extreme amounts of magic, but he only had a very tiny amount, unpracticed and untrained. Librarian Reed would have to cast the spell silently, as would his father. They certainly had the power, and it wouldn’t take too much studying of the spell to be almost capable, but there was one thing they didn’t have. An image of the spell. He could tell them what it was supposed to be like in a general sense, but neither of them had spent so long fiddling with the extradimensional puzzle. Could they get a grasp of how it worked? Probably. But Douglas wanted to do it. That was really the whole point. It was a project to work towards, a goal… and he’d been without magic for long enough. He didn’t like it. Maybe if he’d never been able to use magic before, it wouldn’t have been such an issue… but since he had used magic, he couldn’t just let it go.
It was hard to guarantee the spell would be completely safe, but he’d at least put in the time to check it for safety… unlike his unfortunate magic-eating spell. He’d almost torn out the page with that spell but instead he kept it. Over the last few weeks, he’d gone over it in detail and rewritten it, restricting its actions. It was a more complicated spell, and he still didn’t think it would be a good idea to use it as it was. Too risky. Not that he could, anyway.
The first spell he used was his light spell. He didn’t have the original anymore- that was gone with everything from their home, when the Scoubarrans came. However, he had his later more refined version. It took more skill to use but was more efficient, lasting longer and providing more light for the same amount of power. Even though he’d used it many times before, memorizing it felt strange and it took several attempts before he actually succeeded.
Douglas didn’t immediately inform anyone of his ability to do magic again. He wasn’t sure if he could actually regain any real semblance of power. After all, it was a strange scenario. Besides, he didn’t really want to talk about the fact that the magic was from his mother. Thinking about it made him think of her… and while he had only the one memory it was extremely intense. Of course, he couldn’t help but think about it when he did magic anyway… but it was better to be reminded slightly less often.
Once Douglas had enough magical power built up to do practical things, he switched to those instead. A lot of his clothes were building up holes, and he wanted to deal with them while they were still small. Unfortunately he couldn’t fix missing material without other cloth to pull from, but he could deal with that later. When he got to the point he could affect rock to help carve out steps- or really just smooth out what steps were already there- he supposed he couldn’t exactly keep it hidden anymore, working where his father and Librarian Reed would see.
Douglas first explained to his father. He was certain they would both react emotionally, and he preferred not to do so in front of Librarian Reed. Douglas wasn’t sure how much of the crying was happiness at him getting his magic back and how much was sadness at the thought of Adeline, but he didn’t care. He had magic again. He felt like he was back to being a whole person- even if some might have said he was still missing something. Still, having never had his voice… Douglas only found it an inconvenience and frustration to not have it. He’d already invented a sign language to replace his inability to speak. The fact that only a few people in the whole world could use it didn’t bother him, because they were just the right people.
Librarian Reed’s response was much more academic, though not entirely. When Douglas told him he had magic again, Librarian Reed smiled widely. “I am so happy for you. I could tell you deeply missed the ability.” When Douglas explained his ability was from his mother, his face turned thoughtful. “An unfortunate but nonetheless interesting revelation. I’m sure you are aware of the theory in that area, but for practical and ethical reasons it was difficult to study. Who would have thought you actually took the whole core of her magic with you…”
There wasn’t much more to say on that topic- Douglas had already long determined there were no memories of magic from her, nor the trained ability he was certain that she had. Instead, it was only the most basic part that allowed for magic to happen, fortunately with the ability to grow just like his had. He was behind in that area, but his studies were already far ahead of his years. Thus, Douglas could spend more time rebuilding his ability. He was also capable of memorizing spells more easily, even if any specific knowledge of runes and spells had been lost until he relearned it.
Though there were certainly countless books in the library he would love to read, Douglas wanted more to solve the mystery of the box. That meant gaining enough power to use the spell to open it. However, instead of using the spell exactly as written, Douglas added a small twist. Of course, he had to inscribe it in a form he could use anyway- since the image and the words had to be combined into one thing he could have in his head. He just added a little bit of stabilization to the air around it. Just in case. It would be a shame if it popped out of existence, but it could happen.
Before that, however, he needed more practice. Fixing clothes was easy- he already had practice and spells for everything he would need in that area. Construction was more difficult. Obviously using magic to put together a building wasn’t as good as proper engineering, but using magic to fix some slight mistakes? That was possible. A piece of wood split because the nail went in slightly wrong? That could be pulled back together, good as new… almost. Sadly the same sort of thing didn’t work so well for living material. There were so many things that could go wrong- and even Douglas’ most practiced area wasn’t perfect. While the way he repaired holes in clothing seemed to be perfect, on the smallest scales it had strange irregularities in the stitching and actual makeup of things. Not a problem for cloth, but a big problem for bone or muscle. It was far too late to try to heal his hand anyway, but he still found writing with his left hand inefficient, and his right just couldn’t do it as well.
Douglas shrugged. He’d rather give up his own right arm- or both arms- compared to being unable to do magic. He could learn to write with his feet, surely. Or his mouth. But being unable to do magic… that was something he never wanted to go back to. That meant caution. Not doing anything stupid like creating a magic devouring spell without proper limits… or at all, probably. But maybe he’d need it again.
Under the advisement of Librarian Reed, he also took to once again constantly having an armor spell around himself. It could protect him from daily bumps and bruises, and if there was actual real danger it would be entirely necessary. It wasn’t as if he could wear real armor. That stuff was heavy. Maybe some enchanted clothing… but would that overlap with his own spell and cause problems? Douglas also couldn’t help but consider weaving in some space magic to a defensive spell. Nothing could hurt him if it was shunted off into another dimension, right? Eventually, though, Douglas put that thought aside for later… much later. His head almost exploded just thinking about how to make it work from every angle without eating all the air around him, or people’s arms and legs… not to mention the amount of power it would likely take. He settled for his previous best defensive spell with a few tweaks not related to manipulating extra dimensions. But if he could just make that work- Douglas lightly slapped himself in the face. Later. Much later, probably… but definitely eventually. If his current understanding of all of that worked, anyway, and he didn’t have to learn again from the beginning.