Howl's Moving Castle (synopsis - Page 3)
Having seen the havoc wreaked upon the lower level, Markl rushes to save his room upstairs from total devastation by Sophie's cleaning before she gets there. Fortunately for him, she is given pause halfway up by the horrifying condition of the bathroom, which is totally bespattered by evidence of Howl's previous hair colourings. Opening a window, she finds herself overlooking a majestic vista as Calcifer transports the Castle across the countryside. Finding a side balcony from which to enjoy the pastoral beauty of the approaching Star Lake, Markl and Sophie find Turnip-Head stuck upside-down yet again in a niche in the Castle. He seems to have taken a liking to Sophie and followed her into the Castle.
The Castle sets itself gingerly down by the shore of Star Lake, then Sophie, Markl and Turnip-Head turn to domestic duties such as hanging out the laundry. As they take tea beside the lake, Sophie mentions to Markl that Turnip-Head seems to be not so much a demon as a helpful spirit, who managed to lead her to the wonderful place where she now sits.
The peaceful, serene shore of Star Lake is a huge contrast to where Howl currently finds himself - flying in feathered form over a burning city being bombed by squadrons of warplanes. Howl himself is beset by monstrous bowler-wearing flying blobs, and their battle is fierce. Exhausted, he creeps back into the Castle just before daybreak, and Calcifer notes the effort that Howl must use to return to human form, warning him that one day, he might not be able to do so. Howl replies that his opponents were indeed transformed wizards who had lost their humanity to their monstrous ways. Perhaps this is why Howl had not reported to the King for battle duty.
Before heading upstairs for his bath, he looks in gently on the sleeping Sophie who seems to appear young again in the moonlight still of the night. Startled by the running bath, Sophie wakes in fright, appearing old once again?
Sophie and Markl head out shopping in Porthaven, with Sophie keen to see the seaside for the first time, and Markl grumbling with childlike disdain for healthy foods such as potatoes and fish. The horrors of war are brought starkly home as a smoking wreck of a battleship limps into port. In the hubbub, Sophie spies one of the Witch's top-hatted blob-servants, although the general populace appears not to notice the monsters in their midst. They manage to sneak home in the confusion when an enemy airship drops a mass of propaganda leaflets all over town.
However, the apparent peace inside the Castle is shattered by an explosion and an unearthly cry from the bathroom. Sophie's cleanup has apparently confused Howl and his latest hair colouring mixture is not at all what he expected - his hair has changed from a dazzling blonde to a vibrant orange! He rushes downstairs in a panic, complaining about Sophie's cleanup and falling into a sulk about his appearance as his hair starts to spontaneously change to purple, followed by black. A Darkness starts to engulf the place, and he even starts to drip green goo from his skin. Sophie, never one to have ever been praised for her beauty, can't take such self-indulgence any more and runs crying out into the rain. The considerate Turnip-Head kindly brings her an umbrella. Markl fetches her back inside to save Calcifer from Howl's liquid oozing, and Sophie finds she has yet another mess to clean up.
The cleaned-up Howl is resting inside his room, a stately pleasure dome full of magical baubles and gaudy trinkets. Sophie brings him something hot to drink, and he calls her to his bedside, noting that he has detected that the Witch is searching him out. He tells Sophie that he once met the Witch, but fled her in his cowardice, which comes as no surprise to Sophie, having witnessed his immaturity about mere hair colouring. He says that his unwillingness to meet the King in any form is also a form of cowardice, although he cannot totally deny the oath he took when at the Royal Academy. Sophie's naïve proposal that Howl simply refuse to support the King's war that causes suffering for his people is met with another outlandish idea from Howl - that Sophie make apologies on Howl's behalf by impersonating the Wizard Pendragon's mother! And who is this mysterious Madame Suliman who Howl appears also keen to avoid?
Sophie sets off for the palace, wearing her plain old hat, despite Howl magicking up a nice dress for her. Before she leaves, Howl places a ring on her finger, telling her that it is a charm to assure her safe return, and reassuring her that he will follow in disguise. All along the way, she wonders in what form Howl has chosen to disguise himself, and when a wheezy little dog patters along behind her, such flamboyance seems to betray the point of a disguise. But Sophie has more to worry about when the Witch pulls alongside in her litter, admiring her own handiwork and gloating that she too has been called to the palace to lend her powers to Madame Suliman.