Hauru no Ugoku Shiro
(Howl's Moving Castle)
|Synopsis - Page 2|
Making her way into the gloomy edifice, Sophie finds a seat in front of the glowing embers of a fireplace. As she tosses a few more logs in the fire, she realises her new surroundings are very run-down, lined with cobwebs and junk overflowing in piles on the furniture. But there are more surprises in store - the fire talks to her and reveals himself to be the demon Calcifer! Sophie wonders whether this magical being can break the spell that she is under - but he wants the spell on himself to be broken in return. Bargaining with a demon is not the sort of thing Sophie feels like doing, and poor Calcifer bemoans his sorry lot, working for Howl under the terms of his curse, which of course also cannot be revealed. As the old lady drifts off to sleep, Calcifer wonders whether this bargain is really going to work out...
The next day, warships proudly steam their way out of another city with an unfamiliar flag, nevertheless accompanied by the same old jingoism and festivities seen all over the land. The Mayor of Porthaven knocks on the door at the shopfront of 'The Great Wizard Jenkins', which seems to now be a front for the Castle. A young boy goes to answer the door, disguising himself with a magical beard. He has little time to wonder at the sudden appearance of Sophie within the Castle overnight - the Mayor is there to summon the wizard to fight in the war for his King, but when he has departed, Sophie's new housemates realise that she is no witch, despite her joking with a young customer who has come to collect an order. As Sophie looks out the window to the seaside and realises that the Castle has moved from the Wastes, the doorbell rings again and Calcifer announces that they are now in Kingsbury. The indicator by the door rotates from Blue to Red, and the door opens to reveal a bustling city scene instead of a peaceful seaside town. This time, the Royal summons is for the Wizard Pendragon. When Sophie decides to turn the door handle from Red to Green, she opens the door to find herself looking out onto the desolate Wastes once again. Another turn of the handle to Blue returns the door's opening to Porthaven, at which point the young boy becomes irritated, and despite Sophie's interest in the Black door, tells her that only Howl knows where that leads.
The young boy scampers around to clear a spot amongst the debris to eat his breakfast of bread and cheese, but Sophie spots bacon and eggs and decides that something better is in order. Both the boy and Calcifer protest that only Howl may use the fire, but Sophie quietly threatens to reveal Calcifer's attempt to break his contract, and he unwillingly goes along with her cooking, much to the boy's surprise. The Black Door opens to reveal Howl, who Sophie recognises from the outfit that he was wearing on the day they escaped from the Witch's blobs. He seems amused, rather than surprised, to see Calcifer so obedient to this stranger, and Sophie tries to pass herself off as the new cleaning lady. Howl assumes the cooking duties, and the boy Markl invites Sophie to eat with them, although the chipped crockery and lack of clean cutlery speaks to the already-apparent general chaos of the household. Markl's boyish enthusiasm for the hot meal shows just how long it's been since he ate properly, but Sophie's observations about his slovenly manner within this slovenly manor are interrupted by Howl's sensing of an interesting artefact in Sophie's pocket.
Surprised by this revelation, Sophie pulls out a previously-undetected piece of paper, which disintegrates as she attempt to hand it to Howl, and burns a mystical mark into the table. This ancient spell carries a threat to Howl from the Witch, saying that just as he caught a falling star, so shall the heart of this heartless man be hers. Howl disappears upstairs for a bath, and Markl's suspicion that Sophie was sent by the Witch are not alleviated when she discovers that she really is unable to tell anyone about the curse!
Sophie takes out her frustration by manically launching into her role as cleaning lady, sending entire families of bugs and vermin scattering. Even prospective customers are made to wait outside as the frenzied activity sends clouds of dust into the street. Almost forgotten in the activity are the dying embers of Calcifer, whose life hangs on replenishing the wood to sustain his fire. As Calcifer clings to life (literally), Sophie goes outside to empty the ashes when the fire suddenly goes out. Howl breathes life back into Calcifer, although he does not seem overly disturbed that Sophie left him unattended. Sporting a fresh change of clothes, Howl jauntily opens the Black Door to reveal a fiery, hellish scene into which he disappears, leaving Calcifer to warn Sophie that his death also means Howl's death.