The Butler, Competitive (その執事、拮抗, Sono Shitsuji, Kikkō) is Chapter 17 of the Kuroshitsuji manga.
Sebastian and Agni have a fencing match, as per each one's respective master's orders. They are evenly matched and have to stop when they accidentally break their swords. Soma is surprised, saying that Agni is the best fighter in his hometown, and this is the first time anyone has drawn with him. Ciel, however, is shocked that a mere human could be on par with a demon. Ciel questions if Agni is a Grim Reaper, but Sebastian reassures him that Agni is human.
Sebastian leaves to go prepare for the day, stopping Baldroy from cooking, saying he will take care of it. Baldroy argues with him until Agni appears and offers to help out. Sebastian lets him make the cottage pie, and leaves after telling Baldroy he will only get in the way. Taking notice of this, Agni calls Baldroy the "chef supervisor," much to the latter's thorough enjoyment, finding a task that Baldroy can help with. Finnian enters the room and Agni asks if he will help. Finnian states that he cannot. Since he is so strong, Sebastian forbids him to touch anything in the kitchen. Like with Baldroy, Agni again finds a task that Finnian can help with. Mey-Rin also approaches and begins to take down the heavy tableware from a high cabinet, causing her to fall. Agni catches her and suggests that she take the plates down one by one, so as not to injure herself.
Sebastian then pokes his head in, to check up on the servants and Agni. He is shocked to find that Agni was actually able to use the other servants. Agni states that everyone has different abilities, and that they can be used to be of help.
Agni then reflects on his past, stating that he used to be an idiot and what he owes the prince cannot be repaid. In India, he belonged to the highest caste that served God. However, his father was consumed with material goods and human desires, and seeing this caused him to not believe in God. Instead, he took advantage of his social class and committed sins daily. Eventually, he had to pay for his crimes through an execution. Prince Soma had heard of him, and attended his execution. He stated that, because Agni was so strong, he would come be his sparring partner instead. When told he could not do that, Soma cut Agni's hair and said that he was to be reborn with a new name and a new life. Agni states that he now believes God exists, in Soma.
Sebastian states that gods, in reality, are useless in a sense, and when Agni questions him, he says he did not say anything.
At dinner, Ciel questions Soma on the woman he was looking for. Mina had been his servant since he was born and, although his parents ignored him, Mina had always been by his side. He compared her to an older sister who he loved dearly, and who he believes loves him too. However, when the English who had come to India left, they took her with them. So, Soma has come to England to retrieve her, although Ciel thinks he is making too much of a fuss over a servant. Ciel states that he cannot, and does not wish to, understand feelings that are so "meager". Soma says even if that is the case, he does not want to be alone in his castle. Ciel leaves the room, thinking of his deceased family members who cannot return so easily.
Ciel goes to sit with Soma, offering to play poker, not to make Soma happy, but because he has time. Soma turns the offer down, stating that, unlike Ciel, he is very busy. He and Agni leave the manor, telling Ciel to sleep because he is so short. Lau approaches Ciel, who is suddenly very angry, and questions if he is in a bad mood.
Characters in Order of Appearance
- Soma Asman Kadar
- Sebastian Michaelis
- Ciel Phantomhive
- Vincent Phantomhive
- Rachel Phantomhive
- Angelina Dalles