Howl's Moving Castle (synopsis - Page 6)

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Concerned for Howl, she wants Calcifer to move the Castle physically to town. The cunning that she seems to have gained is put to use wheedling Calcifer into helping, but he does demand a bargain - perhaps her eyes. She offers a grey braid instead, which Calcifer willingly feeds on. Rejuvenated, Calcifer manages to animate a small part of the Castle, which clanks its way down the hill towards the town. Sophie is impressed by this display of power, but Calcifer thinks he could have done even more with her heart. Suddenly realising the meaning of this, the Witch greedily reaches for Calcifer's glowing centre - Howl's lost heart, which he bargained away so long ago.

The Castle Collapses

Although Howl is in mortal combat, the Witch thinks only of the heart that she covets, and grabs Calcifer, causing him to lose control of the Castle. Despite burning almost to death, she cannot overcome her greed and let go of the flaming talisman. In desperation, Sophie throws a bucket of water over the Witch to put her out - but Calcifer is now reduced to a barely-glowing ember. The building starts to disintegrate around them, and Sophie falls into a ravine as the Castle splits in half. Wailing, the Witch selfishly mourns the once-vibrant heart she still holds, and which Sophie only doused in order to save the Witch's life.

Dazed, Sophie realises that she may have killed both Calcifer and Howl, who she so desperately loved and wanted to save. Suddenly, a weak glow from the charm on her finger gives her hope that perhaps Calcifer is still alive, and she follows its glow to the door that fell from the Castle, which now leads into an inky black nothingness. Steeling herself, she enters...

Fallen Angels

...and finds herself emerging into Howl's mill-house hideaway. In the moonlight, she sees a sky full of shooting stars. Their spirits slowly dissipate as they come crashing to earth, but Sophie spots a young Howl passing in the meadow, observing without fear. Sophie's ring vibrates in sympathy for its dying comrades, and she realises this is the moment in Howl's childhood when he made a fateful bargain - but she can do nothing to intervene as she starts to sink into the soft ground. She sees Howl catch a brilliant, falling star. He swallows it, and he clutches at his chest. Calcifer emerges from within, carrying Howl's heart which now binds them both together. Finally, Sophie's ring cracks with stress, and she is sucked back through time to the present, only having a chance to call out a promise to Howl and Calcifer that she would one day return to save them both.

Sophie's Promise

When she returns to the door, she finds Howl waiting for her, as she now realises he had done for his whole life from that moment in the garden. The door finally closes behind her forever, its purpose fulfilled. Now barely human, he flies her back to Calcifer, just managing to animate a tottering platform with the Witch and Markl, and Turnip-Head looking out for them. Howl collapses and Sophie pleads with the Witch for his heart. Even the Witch realises the power of Sophie's love is more deserving of Howl's heart than her own selfishness, and finally gives it up. Calcifer too is worn out by his lifetime of servitude, but even so fears what might happen to him when Howl's heart is returned. Still, he survived a splashing from Sophie so she decides to go ahead.

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