The next morning, Ciel walked into the undertaker's workshop. "He's in one of them. Just start checking.", he commanded.
Accompanying him were Mei-Rin, Finnian and Hardroy. The three were dressed in their standard household uniforms instead of their traveling clothes. They still obeyed and started cracking open coffins. Eventually, they found him. Even though Lau and his ever present arm candy, Ran-Mao, did not help in the slightest.
The undertaker yawned loudly. "It's way too early. We're not open yet. Come back later.", he said while waving his hand away. The pale face turned away from them to go back to sleep.
"It's me.", Ciel told him. "I've come for information."
"Oooh!", he said as he wormed his way to a standing position. "Such laughter as you bring me is always worth waking up for. Perhaps, the best way to start off the day!
"Where is your pet...comedian?"
"Please, sir.", Sebastian said as he entered the shop. "I am merely one hell of a butler."
He was preceded by the person he was holding a pitch black parasol over. The person seemed to be dressed in layers of red gowns, long jackets, leather gloves and boots if any thing could be told from what peeked out of the heavy polar explorer's fur parka. It seemed more than adequate protection from the cool yet sunny day.
The undertaker nearly fell across his shop in one step to smell the person in coat. A wide grin broke out on his face. Then the undertaker doubled over with laughter. His tears fought to escape his eyes from laughing so hard. The remainder of the room waited for him to finish...so, maybe this time he could explain the joke.
After he caught his breath, the undertaker tried. "I would have never thought a shikabane would enter a British shop."
Madame Red spoke hurriedly. "Oh no. Did I need an invitation to safely cross the threshold?"
"So the parka and parasol was because you thought you might be a vampire?", the undertaker replied. "At least it isn't your one regret."
Ciel tapped his walking stick. "What is a shi-ka-ba-nay?"
"Shikabane. Shik-a-ba-ne.", the undertaker corrected.
"You've seen how Madame Red dressed in life.", Lau said. "The regret that re-animated her couldn't be under dressing. It's probably Ciel that dragged her from the grave."
"Wait a minute.", Hardroy turned on the chinaman. "You knew what kind of creature she was when we were coming here to find out? And kept it to yourself?"
Ran-Mao squeezed Lao's waist a little tighter from under his arm.
"Of course, not.", he assured.
"But you were just talking like you knew everything!", everyone in the room chorused.
"The undertaker said she had one regret.", he replied. "I was just guessing."
Everyone else sweat dropped at his smug expression.
Ciel again tapped his walking stick. "Undertaker, if you will?"
"Of course.", the long coated figure agreed. "A shikabane is a corpse that holds onto one regret from their life so much that they can't lay still in their grave. When they come back, they're singularly focused on that one drive: even if it as simple as bathing or as complex as a mystery embedded in a country's history. Nothing else moves them."
"So the only thing I can think about is caring about Ciel?", Madame Red asked as she started peeling off some of the layers meant to protect a vampire from the sun. "You know, I find it oddly comforting that I my heart won't drift from that thought."
"You would.", the undertaker reminded her.
Finnian stepped closer to Madame Red, now that he was more confident she wasn't going to drink his blood. "So, does that mean she doesn't get any powers?"
"She couldn't have escaped her grave with the capacity she had as mortal.", Sebastian surmised. "No offense."
"None taken.", the shikabane replied. "It was horrible experience."
Mei-RIn had to ask. "The claustaphobia? The darkness? The trapped feeling? The dirt?"
Madame Red looked at her feet. "er...Being separated from Ciel."
The undertaker then spoke. "No, no. Her form has been unhindered by her death. Age, disease, toil, and pain of child birth hold no limitations for her now.
"But the pain rather than the actual child birth was never a problem for you, was it?"
"You shouldn't speak to her like that!", Ciel warned.
"No, it's okay.", Madame Red stated. "It's not like he insulted you, my darling."
The undertaker giggled again. "Oh, shikabane are hilarious.
"Anyway, she also has one ability that may be unique to her and her alone."
"Like the claws and teeth and glowing eye I had when I escaped my entombment?", the monster asked. And by 'monster', shikabane is meant. Not say, demon or shinsengumi.
The undertaker shook his head. "No. You are a monster now. The corpse will inevitably show its monstrousness. The glow is just a post script in the life that flashed before your eyes.
"The curse I speak of may be apparent. It may be too subtle to notice quickly. You'll have to be very careful until you figure it out."
Madame Red's corpse shrugged its shoulders. "So maybe I breathe fire. Why would I have to take extra care? At most, I'd just burn down half the country. That's not so bad."
"And if you were to hurt young master with this curse?", the undertaker supposed.
She put her hand to her mouth. "What horrors!"
The shikabane turned to Sebastion. "Sebastian. You have to make sure that my curse doesn't harm Ciel. You must help me!"
Sebastian placed a reassuring hand on her arm. "Madame, I have already pledged to protect the young master with all my being. Rest assured, I will stand between him and whatever you would inflict upon him."
Hardroy raised his voice. "It doesn't concern anyone that she was willing to burn England to the ground even though Ciel brings her to a panic."
Ciel glared at him.
The undertaker lamented. "That really is the issue with Shikabane. Since Lord Phantomhive is her only regret, she'll only act on his behalf. For any of your arguments to have any effect on her, they'll have to be stated in relation to her affection...love...no, attachment to the earl."
Said earl stroked his chin. "Is there anything we would have to feed such a monster? The dead, the living...?"
"No.", the undertaker replied. "She'll walk as long as her regret commands. She'll be able to if her regret is fulfilled or unable to be served, etc. Madame simply won't because she won't care to do anything else."
Just then a young couple came into the shop. The husband kept a stiff upper lip for his wife. Then they noticed the gaggle of people in the small coffin workshop. "Can anyone help us? We...we need a coffin for our...darling Stephy."
"Oh, go bother someone else.", the undertaker commanded. "I'm not open yet."
"Oh.", the couple acknowledged quietly, too lost in their grief to be offended.
Then they noticed the woman in red. "Baroness Barnett?", the wife asked. "But...but I read your obituary."
The husband guided his wife closer.
Madame Red smiled. "Oh, don't worry sir. I got that a lot before...you know. I am Dr. Angelina Durless of the Royal London Hospital. I just look a lot like the, obviously late, baroness."
"You mean the charlatans that wouldn't save my daughter from something as common as influenza!", the husband snapped.
Madame Red's smiled disappeared. "You know, sir/"
"Keep up appearances.", Ciel called out.
"Our staff isn't supernatural.", Madame red lamented falsely. "I'm sure we tried the best to save your daughter and make her as comfortable as we could we failed. I am sorry for your loss. You have my and the hospital's condolences."
The couple scoffed and left the funeral parlor.
Ciel Phantomhive smiled. Sebastian understood what was coming and raised an eyebrow intrigued.
"If the only way I allow you to come into contact with me is to serve me and follow my orders exactly, would you do it?", the boy asked his aunt.
The shikabane nodded. "Of course."
"Even if you continued on as a peasant and not even a commoner let alone nobility? Even if I abused you at every turn? No matter how immoral or self-serving or harmful to you my orders are?", he continued.
"The undertaker was right. I just can't bring myself to care about any of that. All I want is you in my lif...well, undeath.", Madame Red told him.
The boy smiled. "Than I am willing to use you to achieve my objectives. Much in the same way I use Sebastian."
The shikabane sped to him so fast Finnian blinked and completely missed it. The undead creature picked the boy up in her arms and swung him around. "I am so happy!", she squealed.
Sebastian held the parasol, parka and other anti-sun protection Madame Red did not need. He may not have exactly known, but he could tell and infer and discern amazingly well. So he began, mentally, to prepare.