The Broken Wall: Part V of the Wallmaker Saga
Chapter 7: Mending Fences
"Heen! Nice doggy!" The former witch of the wastes exclaimed as the daemon rushed to her feet. The faded old woman scooped up the trembling scruffy animal and rocked him side to side like a baby.
"WHERE DID YOU GO!?" Markl thundered, catching up the fire daemon only to yelp and snatch back his hands as the living flame singed his skin.
"Nice to see you too! And here I was afraid I'd you all smashed to bits," Calcifer crackled crankily as he gyrated before the young wizard's face. "The Wall holds the worlds apart, stupid! When it broke all the daemons got pulled back into the Otherworld. You can't be in two places at once. Honestly, don't you humans know anything!"
"I had to fly the castle!" Markl replied hotly, not comprehending in the slightest anything the fire daemon said.
"Good! Now you see what I have to put up with every day!" But then the spark flared up a healthy shade of orange as he caught sight of Barimus. Wearily, which slow movements that bespoke his pain, the red wizard sat on one of the kitchen benches Theresa quickly righted. Defeat was etched into every line in the blond man's features and the sight sent a chill through Markl's heart.
"Oi! You've got Suliman's stick!" The daemon cried anxiously, "What are you waiting for, you ruddy wizard, go help Howl and Sophie!"
"The lights are changing again! They're getting fainter." Lettie screeched just as a bone jarring tremor passed through the castle, rattling the shelves and dislodging another fleet of pans from the walls.
Milly and Tilly screamed and clambered further into their mother's skirts even as she leaned dangerously out of the veranda door. Alex's large hands found purchase on the back of his wife's apron just as the quake hit. Theresa skittered forward and snatched a hold of the front of Markl's tunic, dragging him out of the path of a swinging lamp that missed his head by inches. But the Royal Wizard's voice cut through even the guttural moans of the world beneath their feet.
"Take a good look out the window, Calcifer," Barimus spoke through the press of his fingers, "This world is already torn apart far beyond Howl's ability to mend."
"That's it then?" Honey demanded in a hoarse voice, still clutching Mr. Hausa as though he were the only thing of certainty that existed in the world.
"Yes… That's it," The red wizard pronounced with bleak certainty.
The expression of utter desolation his golden eyes embodied perfect despair as he bowed his face into one hand. Calcifer melted into an astonished teal hue, shocked to silence by the Royal Sorcerer's reply. The lights in the room dimmed and flickered in response to the daemon's alarm as he dwindled small.
"I don't think I agree, Master Barimus," Theresa spoke up resolutely as she shook off the paralyzing fear the gripped the room like a killing frost. Turning to the Wallmaker's apprentice, whom she still held by the collar, the red-head attempted to clean the ashes from his face with her sleeve.
"Hope is a good thing," She continued evenly, and the freckle faced girl smiled when the russet-haired boy stopped her hands by catching them into his own, "No good thing ever really leaves us completely."
The Red Wizard's head jerked up in surprise to regard his foster daughter just as a blinding flash of light swallowed the world in a super nova of perfect silence.
Their magic shattered like a thin pane of glass.
As it did Howl snatched Sophie and Akarshan into his arms, turning his back against the impending tide as if he could shield them from the Dark. They were knocked to the ground, plastered into the green grass by a great swelling force that might have crushed the very souls from their bodies. But it passed quickly, only to be replaced by the calm persistent familiar tug of the relentless Otherwind.
But the vermillion wave did not come.
The sapphire-eyed sorcerer was not sure how long he lay there, braced for an evil that was suddenly absent from the surroundings. It was Sophie who brought him back to his senses, suddenly struggling beneath him, pushing at his shoulder as her wide brown eyes fixed with incredulity on something overhead. Dully, following her gaze, and much to his surprise the Wallmaker regarded only the placid velvet firmament overhead. The starless indigo veil waited above, not the horrible mirror of an inverted world on the brink of destruction. Sitting up with his dazed little boy in his arms, Howl turned his eyes back towards the Dull Wall and gaped incredulously.
Where the breech had been was a vast expanse of white stone.
It towered upwards, the alabaster bricks veined with silver that showed like mica shining in the sun. The barrier exuded strength and vitality. Even the once dead grass at its foot now grew green and verdant. That was until the stones faded back into the hungry charcoal crags that disappeared off into the distance. But the tainted remnants of the barrier seemed to shrink from the mended space, as though it new that eventually every last shred of its foundations would be consumed by the purpose of the renewed stones. However, the wonder in the raven haired sorcerer dissolved as he realized what the White Wall had cost him. And this same conclusion was what sent the silver sorceress stumbling to her feet.
DEIRDRE! She keened in anguish.
The mother flung herself at the Wall like a feral thing, mad with tears and grief as she attempted to tear herself from Howl's grasp. But he caught hold of her skirts and yanked the witch back into his free arm. Howl crushed her against him and Sophie continued to scream silently for her daughter until the weight of their sorrow rendered them both mute. Akarshan, still and white faced with terror, suddenly stiffened and jerked his head up. Both his parents fell jumped as the little boy suddenly pointed at the marble bricks, his attention fixed with such vehement singularity on something they could not see.
Just then the Star Daemons parted around the Wallmaker's in a great tumbling wave of exuberance. Riding the Otherwind like a flood, they surged forward and crashed against the wall in a tide of shimmering effervescence, only to be forced to recede like any fluid force. But as they fell back, they drew from between the nooks and crannies of the stone and mortar another being spun of light and magic. A little star burst forth from the once dark barrier, reeling forward until it half collapsed on spindly hands and knees before the Wallmaker family. Shan wasted no time squirming like a greased fish from his father's grasp, dashing forward to stand directly in front of the strange spirit.
The star straightened and at once it could be seen that they were the same height, simultaneously blinking blue eyes of identical shade.
Sophie clambered on her knees to her son's side, hugging him to her even as she leaned forward in shocked wonder.
Deirdre? The Silver Sorceress's incredulous query was mirrored in her husband as the lanky man materialized at her side. Howl hesitantly reached out to the star, the slow unfolding motion full of the question that had finally found silent words in the brown-eyed woman's Othervoice. The flickering creature swayed from side to side as it took the wizard's proffered palm, and in that moment there was no doubt in their minds that this was their daughter.
Singing a triumphant song of pure crystalline exultation, the star children erupted up into the sky in an explosion of mercurial vapor, trailing their sparkling rainbow garments behind them in unadulterated joy. The worlds were preserved, the Wall mended, and they rejoiced.
But of their kin, Deirdre and Nox remained.
The littlest star suddenly sang out in a bell like voice beyond hearing and abruptly a doorway of clotted shadows stretched out behind the family. Lifting out of the green grass behind the Wallmakers, it towered up over them like the great whirling hand of time.
In a disorienting rush of Otherwind, all at once they were standing on the landing of the castle just beyond the threshold of the magic portal. Howl still held Deirdre by the hand, and though she now existed in another realm, instinctively the sorcerer pulled her toward him. The thin tendril of light melted into solidity as the silver haired child-woman regained her mortal form. Immediately the elder star placed his hand on her shoulder, rising up into his human guise. Nox regarded both Howl and Sophie with vibrant violet eyes full of regret as he shook his head slowly from side to side. Words were not possible for him for he was still in the otherworld, although his meaning was plain enough.
Rage blossomed hot and bright within the Wallmaker and Howl persisted implacably, his grip tightening. Sophie suddenly understood as well, thrusting Akarshan behind her as together they gathered the will of their magic to protest by force if necessary. But the twisted expression of tortured pain that burned across the child-woman's face brought her parents up short. They saw it then, the connection between the half-daemon and the white bricks of the mended Wall behind her, pulled taute nearly to the point of breaking. It was like seeing a ray of sunshine, the hope of the two worlds embodied in physical form. But made horrible in that moment because I represented the price they had been forced to pay. Deirdre smiled then as if to tell them it was alright, casting her eyes to Nox and let her hand slip through her father's.
"NO!" Howl thundered as a blast of the Otherwind slammed him backwards as the door slammed shut.
As it did the mortal realm crashed about the Wallmakers in an avalanche of tumultuous sensations. Leaving them to turn and stare at the incredulous faces of their family, who stood in the shattered turmoil that filled the living room of the flying castle.
"What's going on now?" Theresa demanded cantankerously in a low voice so as not to wake Akarshan, who was fast asleep in her arms, his little face tucked into the curve of her shoulder.
"I don't know," Markl replied uncertainly, "I'm just guessing from the look on Martha's face, but I bet they're arguing about something stupid from."
The green garbed girl huffed and shifted the sleeping child so she could scoot a steaming cup of tea closer to Barimus. But the exhausted red wizard was oblivious to its presence, and the scrutiny of his wife's apprentice. Sprawled on a couch barely large enough to accommodate his long legs, the golden-eyed man's face was pinched with pain. Suliman's stick leaned against the couch next to him. The Herbalist had nearly squeezed the life from them as soon as they arrived. She had kissed the red wizard with such ardent joy it made Markl turn scarlet. However, that desperate love had melted into cool professionalism as she took in his deteriorated state and forbade from leaving the couch.
Barimus did not argue and seemed glad for a moment to escape the chaos beyond. Indeed, he had said very little after Howl and Sophie had emerged from the otherworld, bringing on their heels the peaceful afternoon sun that dissolved the world of fire and doom had loomed in the sky overhead. But the moment of tranquility was fleeting, and the silver sorceresses' screams of anguish sent the broken castle quaking with her grief. Once again the fury of her magic had chased the family from their home. Granny Witch and the Hatters had gone to Mrs. Fairfax's farm, which had not suffered at all in the recent trials. The Wallmaker had told them in a few quiet words what had transpired beyond the indigo veil. And as he finished, the Wallmaker deposited an uncommonly solemn Akarshan into his brother's arms and stated that Markl should accompany Theresa and Barimus back to the Ingarian capital. The sorrow in his master's eyes left no room for argument and the russet haired boy knew why.
The Daemon Queen was dead, the Wall was mended. But Deirdre had not come back with them, nor had the other daemon.
Finally, after the freckle-faced girl had stared at the blond man for nearly two minutes, she took one of his hands and placed it on the handle of the cup. This seemed to shake the red wizard. He closed his fingers around it and took a deep drink before straightening abruptly, turning an unveiled gaze of suspicion on the young healer.
"No poison today, Master Barimus," She frowned at him seriously, planting her hands on her hips, "The stores in the Healer's Wing were scattered by the wind daemons."
At this the Royal Wizard managed a weak smile, before turning his attention to his nephew. The russet-haired boy was toying with the edges of his patchwork cloak, bent squinting over a perfectly spherical crystal orb that sat on a cushion in the middle of the table in the antechamber. It was the late sorceress Suliman's; luckily it survived the Daemon Queen's attacks and had been retrieved from the wreckage of the palace. The cheerful afternoon sun streaming into the room from the long windows that stretched along the west wall.
"Are the Kings with her?" Barimus' voice was hoarse with fatigue.
"Yes, the Emperor is there with both Prince Justin and King Walden, but it's apparently not of any help," Markl took a slow intake of breath and his eyes pales in color as he cocked his head to the side as if listening, "Nalir says that the Council understands and rejoices in the fact that the Wall is mended."
"Yes, yes… I can hear Nalir as well. The scamp! Did you know he is a mindspeaker? Nevermind, just tell me what the holding issue is?"
"They're still arguing about the daemons," The russet-haired young wizard replied gravely and then flushed in embarrassment, "I've never seen such rude Magi before, Uncle! Martha looks ready to throttle the lot of them."
"Can I go help?" Theresa asked with such earnestness that the Royal Wizard uttered a short laugh.
"I would join you as well, dear one, but that is very bad diplomacy," Barimus sighed heavily and a brooding darkness gathered in his golden eyes. "No… This is nowhere near over, I'm afraid. Our country is in shambles, possibly even those beyond our boarders. The Council will divide over this issue: some will want to retaliate, others will demand reflection but most will drown in the indecision to come."
Listening with ears that reached beyond the room through the crystalline orb, Markl suddenly flinched as he heard his name. His brown furrowed deeply as the young wizard watched through the glass sphere as a fat grizzle-haired magus stood and begin shouting. The image in the globe shifted to show a shocked, white faced young man in black robes and then King Ferdinand, who was tugging on his absolutely bristling beard in consternation. What the Mardan Magi had to say sent a clamor of unrest through the other sorcerers and sorceresses.
"Uncle," The Wallmaker's apprentice began anxiously, as if unsure of what to say. Sensing his unease, Theresa came over and gazed into the glass ball with a frown, "They're arguing about something else now."
"What?" Barimus struggled to sit up.
"Who is to be the heir to the title of Royal Sorcerer." Markl replied, lifting troubled eyes to regard the red wizard, "Apparently the conflict of ascension between Nalir and me."
The injured man suddenly snapped his head to the side, straining to look at the orb. He flushed a furious crimson as he caught sight of Healer Yewin in the glass, the blond man's lips curled back in rage. Within the sphere Martha's expression matched her husband's, and had Peoter not been standing behind her to catch the woman's arm, the herbalist may have strode forward to strike the fellow. The captain of the Wizard's Guard was haggard with grief, his normally mirthful face devoid of any humor. Although apparently his bereavement had not keep the copper-haired man from his duty.
"That conniving bastard!" The red wizard snarled.
Just then Prince Justin stood abruptly, wrath bright in his pale blue-grey eyes as the quarrelsome magus lapsed into deferential silence. Suddenly King Ferdinand began speaking with heated agitation and Nalir's shocked voice repeated the distant words in the russet-haired wizard's mind. Markl spoke them aloud in a daze.
"King Ferdinand promised to recommend Nalir for ascension in exchange that Lady Merra find the Daemon Queen, which she did and now Yewin says our king must honor his bargain. But the emperor says you and Master Howl named me your heir before he made the agreement."
"Uncle?" Markl spoke in a small voice before he raised his eyes to regard his, "That can't be true, can it?"
Barimus looked as if someone had slapped him. The blond man gaped at his nephew for a long moment before he spoke.
"I had no choice but to lie," He began in a voice rough with sorrow. "I was not willing to allow the conniving of the power hungry to decide our furture. Yewin and Merra are trying to manipulate their way into controlling the Council and that I cannot allow that."
"But… But I'm Master Howl's apprentice!" Markl insisted incredulously.
"And I wish you were mine! My selfishness drove me to make that hasty decision and for that I am sorry. I am sorry for you and for Howl." Barimus admitted despondently before glowing pride crept into his eyes, "But believe me when I say I do not regret it. You are the best choice I can make in spite of everything."
It was Markl to gape at the blond man. It took a long time before he regained his voice.
"But, Uncle, what about Master Howl!?"
"He will never forgive me," The blond man whispered suddenly lowered his face into his hands once more, "But we all have prices we must pay."
Suddenly Akarshan stirred in the herbalist apprentice's arms. Theresa had been standing aside mutely listening to the conversation with wide green eyes. She gave a start as and the Wallmaker's youngest son jolted wide awake. But the shock on Shan's face transformed into elation as the little raven-haired boy squirmed out of the red-head's arms. As soon as he plopped to the ground he clambered up onto a chair against the wall.
Directly overhead was a large mirror and within its reflection, in complete defiance of the image it reflected of the room, stood Deirdre.
"Look, brother! Sister came back!" Shan cried in exultation as he pressed his hands against the glass.
Every hair on Markl's body stood on end as the blue-eyed child-woman turned her gaze to smile at him. Barimus gasped as Theresa seized the young man's arm. The tall half daemon was fiddling with one of her braids as she turned back to look straight into her brother's eyes.
"What do you mean Papa's listening to us?" The six-year old spoke aloud as he frowned in confusion.
At that moment the little boy looked over his shoulder and the apparition vanished, but not before leaving another in her place.
They were the same, save for the length of their hair.
But in a blink even she was gone as the latch on the opposite door in the antechambers suddenly clicked and swung open. The Wallmaker entered the room. Howl's blue eyes were solemn as he first regarded his sons and then his brother before turning to stare with a growing look of mild consternation at the empty mirror.
"Papa!" Akarshan squealed as he rushed to his father. The raven-haired wizard laughed lightly and scooped the little boy up onto his hip.
"Where's mommy?" Shan asked curiously, "Is she still sick?"
"At home with Calcifer," The handsome man replied with a smile, "Mommy will be alright, she's just sad that your sister couldn't come home with us."
"But didn't you see Dreidy?" Shan frowned as he pointed at the mirror, "She was in the window just now!"
"No… I didn't see her, but I believe she was there," Howl replied in a voice made thick by some restrained emotion. He avoided looking at the glass as he returned his gaze to the Royal Sorcerer.
Surprisingly, Barimus spoke first.
"You were listening?" The blond man's voice was a whisper.
"To every word," Howl replied evenly. "I may not agree with you, brother, but I will forgive you."
"I don't understand."
"This isn't my choice. It's Markl's." The lanky sorcerer's voice was grim this time as he turned his level gaze toward his silent eldest son. The russet-haired young man simply stared at his father with an expression of wild trepidation bright on his features.
"That's not fair! How can you think to make Markl make such an awful decision!?" Theresa suddenly shouted in fury as she stalked forward shaking her fists, "Shame! Shame on you both, you wizards with your stupid short-sighted decisions. Making Markl choose doesn't solve anything! The Council will still fight over your decision because of Nalir. Why can't we all just share and be done with it!?"
Then the little red-head flushed, remembering she was yelling at two of the most powerful men in Ingary. The herbalist's apprentice suddenly shrank back behind Markl, in spite of the grin on the Wallmaker's face and the look of surprise on the face of her mistress' husband.
"What an excellent suggestion, Theresa. What do you think, brother? Why don't we keep them both?" Howl replied in such a cavalier voice that Barimus continued to stare at him, "Contrary to what you all may think of me, I am not so selfish that I won't agree to a joint apprenticeship. You and I can teach Nalir and Markl together."
"What?" The blond man stammered.
"I'm tired, brother," The blue-eyed sorcerer spoke in a sad voice that could have belonged to a stranger, "And so are you, and for the same reasons."
"We're sick, brother, of watching the worlds depend upon the strength of an individual. I'm weary of watching one person being called upon to bare the burden of sorrow and responsibility for the worlds. We're bitter and angry from seeing the potential of our combined strengths scattered into nothing because our race cannot think of anything but personal power and gain. I will not stand for it any longer. The Council must come together to serve its original purpose, to help all who live in the two worlds. Never before has it been so sorely needed."
"They will not listen to me," Barimus countered lamely, "And I grow tired of trying."
"Then we will make them listen. All of us, working together," Howl's eyes were shining brightly as he straightened and smiled in Theresa's direction. "At least they will certainly be more obliged to try once they realize that Martha's presence is no longer a temporary occurrence."
"What?" The Royal Wizard snapped incredulously.
"I am going to have King Ferdinand strike the confines of the register in the charter of the Council so that mortal, daemon, and magi alike are able to decide the future of our worlds." Howl replied smugly, as if it were a simple thing.
Barimus could only gape at his apprentice brother, for what he proposed would tear to shreds a tradition that had been in place for centuries.
"But Master Howl," Markl spoke up incredulously, "What daemons would come here after all this?"
"Calcifer of course! Couldn't you just see him demanding we call him Lord Councilor at home?" The sapphire-eyed sorcerer grinned roguishly, "Besides, the Magi have to get over this phobia of the ancients! It's been too long since they were reminded that they themselves are part daemon."
"What about Deirdre and… the Other?" Theresa asked with cautious curiosity, turning her eyes from the mirror to the Wallmaker. At the sound of the name Howl's mirth dissolved into the thin line of a smile that plastered to his face like a mask.
"I do not know what fate has in store for my daughters. But I know they will be instrumental in the future of our worlds."
"How can you know that they will listen to you, Howl? They barely accept their own royalty. What will they do when you bring Calcifer here?" Barimus began in consternation, his misgivings bleeding through his words as doubt gathered around them in the shadows.
"I don't expect this to be easy," Howl grinned as if it were all a game and he couldn't wait for it to begin, "We're Wallmakers, and if they won't listen to you, me, or even their Kings, by Hell itself they will listen to Sophie."
Sophie stood staring at the boiling kettle for a moment before she hooked it off of Calcifer's flame with the end of her spoon.
A moment before she had been lost in thought so deeply the pancake in the pan might have burned if the living flame in the grate had not sidled out from under the skillet. The glowing ember regarded her with large compassionate eyes, although kept his questions to himself. It was the sound of doors opening and closing overhead and boots on the castle stairs that had drawn the brown-eyed mother witch from her brooding thoughts.
"I smell breakfast!" Shan cried as he tromped down the stairs dragging by the hand his bedraggled father, who was still red eyed from sleep. Howl had been at Kingsbury well into the dark hours of the night, as he had been for the last week since they had come back from the Otherworld. Sophie had attempted to let him sleep in this morning, although apparently their son had other plans.
"Can we have some of Mrs. Fairfax's honey in our tea? Can we, can we?" Akarshan was positively vibrating on the kitchen bench as the silver sorceress brought over the kettle.
"Oh, what a greedy little boy," Granny witch chuckled from beside the hearth. She paused from fixing silver tassels onto a blue scarf to pat Heen's head where it rested on her knee before shuffling over to the table with dog in tow.
"I don't think you need anymore sugar, Shan," Markl grumbled irritably as he tromped slowly down the stairs. As always in the morning, his unruly hair was horizontal, as if willing the bed his head had left behind to materialize magically. Howl grinned at his eldest son over his tea.
They both had been out late at Kingsbury last night.
Although the Wallmaker's smile faltered as he caught the vacant expression on his wife's face as she stared at the empty spot on the end of the bench.
Instantly he caught up her hand, kissing it lightly before lacing his fingers through her own. Sophie smiled at him weakly, but the warm mellow light in her chestnut eyes had been restored once more.
"Papa, papa, papa, papa!" Akarshan began bouncing on the bench once again, making it creak in protest, "Can I try the spell this morning?"
"You're getting too big to be jumping on stuff, kid!" Calcifer snapped from the grate irritably amidst curls of smoke, "One day you're gonna rattle with castle apart."
But Akarshan wasn't paying attention to the fire daemon; his attention was fixed on the front door. There was a new color swatch on the dial, a shiny silver-blue that reminded the little boy of starlight.
"Do you remember how many times to knock?" Sophie asked seriously, returning to the hearth to continue doling out pancakes.
"Yes," The little blue-eyed boy replied saucily, planting his hands on his hips much in the same way the witch did when she was being contrary, "And the pattern too!"
"Oi! Have some respect when you talk to your mother!" Cal crackled from under the skillet, sending curls of smoke up into the chimney. But the brown-eyed mother was smiling as she continued cooking, not bothering to look up as she spoke next.
"Go ahead then, and get the honey out too," the silver sorceress pronounced permissively, "I know how you both are fond of sweets."
"Yay!" Akarshan crowded and jumped down from the table.
Thundering over to the front door, he turned the dial to silver then knocked once, twice, and three times before pulling the portal open, leaning out into the rushing Otherwind before calling at the top of his lungs.
"Sister! Time for breakfast! And we get honey too!"
Would you believe that The Wallmaker Saga began as a one chapter short story? Probably not…
While putting word to page for this story, I continually announced to my partner, "Just one more chapter. I swear, there will be just one more chapter." However, sometimes a story will demand that more be told, even when it has come to a close. Such was the case with Howl's Moving Castle , such is the case with this fan fiction. Yes, its long, really long, but it needed to be in order to explain what needed to be told.
I first saw Howl's Moving Castle in a bargain theater. Being that I was in the middle of my last two quarters of graduate school, I had no idea what it was about, other than the fact that is was the most recent Miyazaki film. Boy was I in for a surprise.
I was floored. Needless to say I forced my partner to go back to the theater three times before it finished its run. Then I bought the art book, the DVD, the soundtrack, and voraciously devoured Diana Wynne Jones' original novel.
Obsessed? No, simply immersed. I dipped as far into the world of Ingary in pursuit of the tight anxiousness that clung to me. I wanted to understand what had touched me so deeply. Although I enjoyed Jones' novel, honestly I wasn't satisfied.1 I wanted more. And so I dug deeper. I scoured the internet for fan art, doujinshi, and read scores of other fan fictions. But still I hadn't reached a point where I could articulate what was bothering me.
I felt cut off, nigh abandoned. Like there was so much more to be said by the characters, so much more to be explained and explored. Furthermore, I wanted more of what Miyazaki portrayed in his film.
Say it with me now, Hayao Miyazaki is a genius!2
I watched all of my Studio Ghibli films again in addition to my bi-weekly dose of Howl's Moving Castle . I did more than watch, I studies his style. Miyazaki 's stunningly visual methodology provides a mature and enormously successful means of storytelling that is at once parsimonious and opulent, uncomplicated and yet profound. I realized that I wanted my own chance to "Return to Oz," to discover what had happened to the characters whom I missed so keenly. Furthermore, I was itching to explain the tantalizing tidbits that were offered and yet never elaborated upon in the movie.
That and I just love Sophie Hatter. Don't get me wrong, I love Howl too, but he's already got a gaggle of fans. I identify with her unlike any other character I have encountered. Furthermore, the rest of the Jenkin's family needs a bit of lauding and I'll gladly be their spokeswoman.3
But beyond hero worship, I discovered that I wanted to be able to write as articulately in words as Miyazaki was able to put into his images. That's a tall order, and one I'll probably never be able to achieve. Nor would I ever want to emulate another person's style entirely. However, I simply wanted to explain that it was Miyazaki-san who brought me back to writing. That and Sophie.
Besides this fan fiction, I've only ever finished one story and it was a monster as well. It was an epic fantasy well over 500 pages. I never gave it a title. That story, along with countless other half started fan fictions and original works, was destroyed when my 1400cs Macintosh laptop crashed and burned in the late 90s.
Was I a good monkey and did I back them up? Nope! Stupid, stupid, sad little monkey…
I probably could have paid for tech support to salvage the data, but at the time I was a furious 16 year old so destroyed, so angry at myself for foolishly trusting in the infallibility of technology, that I gave up writing entirely until the Wallmaker Saga.
However, after finishing this story, I launched into my first piece of original fiction that I actually intend to write, illustrate, and self publish. Burned by the Sun is about a 500 year old immortal man from India who meets a blind woman at the Seattle Public Library. She changes his life, he changes hers, and for better or worse they're stuck with each other. Thus far I've finished two of the four books I plan for the series, and I'm backing them up religiously.
That is what Howl's Moving Castle gave me, that is what this fan fiction allowed me to regain: my voice as a writer, as corny as that sounds. Perhaps in the future, after I finish my other story, I plan to write another fan fiction based in the Wallmakers' world called The Kindred Cycle. It will take place six years after the end of this story. Let's see if I can do it.
Regardless of anything, thank you ever so much for reading. It really does mean the world to me.
1 Diana Wynne Jones fans, please don't kill me! I'm not making a sweeping judgment here, just describing my preference as a way of explaining my motivations.
2 Über-fan-girl-gush-activation-power! Can you blame me!? Admit it, you've done the same thing at some point in your life.
3 Thank you Miyazaki , for another great female character with a backbone, a brain, and a decent set of clothing! Who really wants to cosplay in a spandex mini-skirt? Not me!