Volume thirteen of Kuroshitsuji opens with Elizabeth, who has a sincere fondness for girly things that is complicated by having a genius for something that is not traditionally “girly.” Add to this her mother’s sincere desire that Elizabeth not end up dead, Ciel being a twit when he was little, and the Victorian era’s attitude toward women, and Elizabeth is in a very interesting bind. And by interesting, I actually mean she goes into hysterics because she is afraid that now that Ciel knows she can kick tail, he won’t want to marry her. Fortunately, Ciel is much less of a twit now than he was when he was even tinier! In fact, he seems to be rather flustered about Elizabeth and her unexpected talent for mayhem! He quickly reassures her, and Sebastian finds this completely amusing!
Next, we see that there is a standoff between Sebastian and the two reapers. There is the traditional exchange of threats and information that is followed by the reapers absconding elsewhere, to find Rian. Sebastian, Ciel and Lizzie meet up with Snake, who has lost track of the very slippery doctor. Then they go up to the upper decks, where Ciel and Sebastian get Snake and Lizzie on one of the boats. (It is considerably harder to do for Lizzie because she wants to stay with Ciel.) We get some further slightly disturbing sister complex issues from Edward, Lizzie’s brother, who suggests that Ciel does not need to come back, ever.
So! It turns out that this entire situation was instigated by the Undertaker and Viscount Druitt who is so annoying that there is an actual debate on whether it would be better to apprehend him or kill him. (Everyone ends up on the side of “kill him.”) Sadly, the Viscount is still among the living. (Though hopefully not for much longer as the dude is committing weird creepy zombie treason.)
The Undertaker also reveals that he is a retired Shinigami and has a very impressive scythe. He also appears strangely curious about Sebastian, and stabs him with his scythe so as to read Sebastian’s Cinematic Record. Notably, Grell was not very happy with the extent of Sebastian’s Cinematic Record, which only covers his time serving Ciel. The Undertaker however appears to be greatly interested in Sebastian’s relationship with Ciel, and we get a great deal of backstory about Ciel and Sebastian’s early relationship.
We learn that Sebastian did not start out perfect in every way. He had to learn how to do things like cook palatable meals and deal with an extremely twitchy, yet extremely arrogant kid. Ciel meanwhile had to learn to be less twitchy, and learn how to deal with an extremely powerful, actually very frightening being as if it were actually his butler. Toboso is actually really good at depicting the effects of abuse, and her work is extremely disturbing in this volume, though it doesn’t reach the depths of horror that the Circus arc achieved. (I think this backstory is somewhat intended to be lighter, and actually funny in some ways, which it is, though the horror is still in the background.)
The next volume continues the backstory! Though a great many questions remain unanswered!