Howl's Moving Castle (synopsis - Page 5)

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Markl and Turnip-Head combine forces to help Sophie extract the twitching wreck of the plane from the Castle, and they all pile back inside for breakfast. Even Calcifer is suspicious of the new housemates, as the Witch takes an unusual interest in him. Howl seems less concerned though, finding the spell on Turnip-Head quite in keeping with all the others in the household, although Howl must leave him behind as it is too risky to take him in, with Suliman in pursuit. Calcifer finally gets to put on a splendid display of his powers, as the Castle is magically transported in moments not only to a different place, but reconfigures itself with far more comforts of home. As Markl rushes around his clean new surroundings, Sophie realises that one of the Castle doors now faces her own home town, and Howl shows off all the new additions - especially the presents waiting for her in her own little room, and the outside remade in the fashion of her old shop.

The Secret Garden

But Howl saves the most spectacular addition for last - he leads Sophie out through a new colour of door, into a meadow shimmering with flowers and ponds. It is Howl's private garden, yet oddly familiar to Sophie. Howl leads her to a small mill-house where he used to spend his childhood summers alone. Sophie feels a foreboding about being left alone in this place, but Howl's reassurances only talk of providing in a material sense, and the youthful vigour she has found shrinks back into an old lady's shell.

The peaceful scene is disturbed by passing battleships, and Howl is outraged at the intrusion. He disables one with a wave, although his demonic nature begins to show through as he can hardly contain his transformation. Chased by blobs from the crippled airship, Howl dumps Sophie back through the Castle door and flees.

That evening, as Sophie frets for the missing Howl, Markl reassures her, while even the old Witch can detect her lovesickness. And even the Witch can still love, lusting after the hearts of young men. The air raid sirens outside warn of a danger less sinister than the blob-men searching the night for Howl, who is soaring over the ugly battlefields.

Suliman's Trick

Just as Markl and Sophie are going out the next morning, Sophie's mother arrives, and spotting her old daughter, announces that she has remarried a rich man and has come to take her away. But Sophie is content to stay, so her mother rushes away again. The cunning old Witch inspects a package left behind, and finds a spying bug sent from Suliman, which she tosses into the fire to thwart her rival for Howl. As she leaves, Sophie's mother angrily reports her duty done to her escort, hoping that her actions were not too high a price to pay for her ransomed husband.

Markl and Sophie watch the procession of townspeople fleeing the raids, and the little boy suddenly clings on to Sophie, hoping she won't leave him as well. He feels that she completes his new family, and she agrees. Markl opens a window to let out the smoke from the cigar that the Witch found in Suliman's package, but Calcifer, weakened by his constant defence of the Castle and the ingestion of Suliman's nasty bug, cannot stop the effects of a bombing raid from rattling the building. Sophie rushes to observe the nearby damage, but the blob-men finally spot her and chase her to the house, slowed only by the remains of the Castle's magical protections. Howl personally cushions a bomb from landing on the shop-house, and gently gets her to safety within. The Witch finds time in all the commotion to flirt with Howl as he revives Calcifer, but he must quickly leave - this time not to run away, but to face the next bombing raid and protect the one girl he has finally found to love.

Howl Departs

As Howl rises to face his foes, the shop-house is surrounded by blob-men attempting to find a way in. Sophie changes the door to the Wastes, from where she can see her town being devastated by the battle, and a truly monstrous Howl fighting a horrifying battle. Turnip-Head has been waiting in the Wastes for her return, but it is Calcifer's magic that she needs now, to move the Castle so that Howl need not put himself in danger to protect them. She decides to take the drastic step of removing Calcifer from the Castle, removing its magical presence in the town and hopefully giving Suliman one fewer target to attack, and Howl one fewer target to defend.

As Calcifer passes the Castle's threshold, it implodes upon itself spectacularly as its magical strength dissipates. However, in the rain, Calcifer starts to go out, so Turnip-Head leads them back into the ruined building, no longer a target for Suliman's blobs.

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