The Tyrant’s Cannon Fodder Male Empress Chapter 13

Chapter 13

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Concerning Concubine Zhou, the uneasy Third Master Xue couldn’t summon the resolve to chastise this former high official’s daughter whom he had lured to the capital.

A heated argument quickly subsided as Master Xue waved for Xue Yao to return to his room, attempting to raise a white flag in hopes that Concubine Zhou would calm down and refrain from exposing his secrets further.

Madam Chen promptly stepped forward, taking it upon herself to reprimand Concubine Zhou on Master Xue’s behalf. “You ungrateful woman! You speak as if Master coerced you into our Xue family’s doorstep! Were it not for Master’s sense of obligation to your father’s favor, you would have been traded to a brothel long ago! Do you still dream of securing a legitimate marriage? Ask around, and see who would dare to marry you!”

Concubine Zhou was, in fact, not skilled in the art of verbal combat.

When she initially faced adversity, there existed alternatives, such as seeking refuge with her grandmother or uncle’s family. There would surely be elders willing to arrange a modest dowry for her. Even if she couldn’t wed into a prestigious household, there were many modest families willing to welcome her. There was no need for her to be consigned to a life in a brothel.

It was Master Xue who professed his desire to seek justice for her father, hoping she would provide clues and evidence, feigning a strong sense of righteousness to draw her to the capital.

Madam Chen’s remarkable ability to twist the truth continued to unfold, confidently subjecting Concubine Zhou to humiliation. “In order to shield you, the daughter of a criminal, Master bestowed upon you a social status. As a result, he was labeled by Jiao Zhongqing’s allies as an accomplice of your father. His official journey became fraught with obstacles, all thanks to you, you harbinger of misfortune!”

Silenced by the verbal onslaught, Concubine Zhou’s complexion paled. Her colorless lips parted but she found it impossible to transform into someone as brazen and mendacious as Madam Chen.

Xue Yao was inclined to speak up in defense of her biological mother but was mindful of the rigid societal conventions of the era.

Regardless of how justified she might be, he knew it was unwise to engage in a verbal dispute with the legitimate wife of the household.

Thankfully, Master Xue seized the opportune moment, playing the role of a peacemaker, and comforted Concubine Zhou, “All right, things were said in the heat of the moment, and I bear some fault for that. But you should also consider the sacrifices I’ve made for your sake. Let’s put this behind us. Take Yao’er back to your room for some rest.”

“Master!” Madam Chen couldn’t believe it. “How can we let this matter slide? We’ve been providing such lavish meals and drinks for this ungrateful woman. If Master isn’t going to stand up for himself, then I’ll stand up for him!”

Madam Chen found it most intolerable that her husband was so tolerant and accommodating toward this enchanting seductress. In truth, she was standing up for herself.

In the presence of Master on ordinary days, Madam Chen was always exceedingly warm and affectionate toward Concubine Zhou, inquiring about her well-being. She hoped to spare Master from needing to use his heart for Concubine Zhou, ensuring Master had no chance to feel pity for this helpless little concubine.

She hoped that Master would redirect the affection he gave to his concubine back to his selfless and understanding wife.

The ancient customs and traditions placed a terrifying restraint on women, forcing them to suppress their natural jealousy, concealing it deep inside, lest any sign be revealed.

Madam Chen had originally intended to seize this opportunity to thoroughly discredit Concubine Zhou, making Master see her true nature, and henceforth, view her and the child she bore with disdain.

Little did she know that her husband had never placed much value on the conduct of Concubine Zhou.

As long as Concubine Zhou maintained her alluring and graceful appearance, her husband could forgive her countless flaws.

Conversely, it was Madam Chen herself, who, in her attempt to bring down Concubine Zhou, displayed a shrewish demeanor that lacked the protection of physical beauty. This truly disgusted Master Xue and made him question whether her usual virtuousness was merely a facade.

Master Xue was willing to be enchanted by beauty. Without this shield, he would face the harsh reality to a terrifying extent.

Without this clarity and reality, how could he navigate the treacherous political landscape of Great Qi with ease?

While Madam Chen played the role of the villain, Master Xue took advantage of the opportunity to play nice, using gentle words to persuade Concubine Zhou to return and rest.

Concubine Zhou, acting a bit petulant, brushed Master Xue’s hand away and, looking dejected, embraced Xue Yao as she left.

Master Xue glanced back at his wife.

Madam Chen, acting like a madwoman, stared at Master Xue in bewilderment. Despite her audacious and spiteful accusations against Concubine Zhou, her husband not only refrained from striking that maidservant with divine retribution but he didn’t even utter a word.

“Look what you’ve done to yourself.” Master Xue’s disdain was well-hidden, his expression filled with concern as he gently adjusted Madam Chen’s disheveled hair. “We’re just having a minor disagreement, no need to make a scene. Let’s calm down. I’m hungry. Is there anything to eat?”

Master Xue’s gentleness led Madam Chen to nurture delusions, believing that he wasn’t ignoring right and wrong or favoring his concubine, but simply had a kind heart.

Concubine Zhou, that cunning maidservant, always presented herself as a wronged, tearful figure, which succeeded in preventing her good-hearted husband from punishing her mistakes.

Naturally, she wouldn’t blame her husband for his kind heart. She saw her husband’s benevolence as a blessing for her as his wife. She believed this kind-hearted nature could also serve as her protection when she made mistakes, just as it did for the beautiful Concubine Zhou.

Madam Chen let out a contented smile and returned to her role as the sensible and understanding Third Madam. She then proceeded to attend to her husband.


The next day, at the school.

After a long wait, just as Xue Yao was about to ask the Seventh Prince if he had prepared any stories, the Fifth Prince gave a command and summoned his two younger brothers.

“Today, Fifth Brother will teach you the techniques of cuju. How does that sound?” The Fifth Prince’s training results over the past half month had been remarkable, and he couldn’t wait to showcase his skills to his two younger brothers. He had even brought a leather ball to the school.

“That’s great!” The Sixth Prince raised his little fists, always the first to support Fifth Brother!

The poker-faced Seventh Prince scratched his chubby face as usual, offering no enthusiastic response. “Let’s leave it to fate.”

Immediately, the eunuchs pushed the school desks to the wall, creating a spacious area for the princes to play.

The Fifth Prince explained to his two younger brothers the key points of using the instep to control the ball. He then demonstrated it, tossing the embroidered leather ball into the air and skillfully keeping it afloat, raising it with his foot, repeatedly juggling it, alternating between his feet.

The ball seemed to be tethered to the Fifth Prince’s feet by an invisible thread, staying steady in the air. He juggled it over thirty times without dropping it, eliciting a chorus of amazed cheers from the surrounding readers-in-waiting.

The Sixth Prince quickly walked over to Fifth Brother. “Let me try it, Fifth Brother! Let me try it!”

The Fifth Prince lofted the ball high, and with a steady right hand, he gracefully delivered the ball to the hands of the Sixth Prince.

“Wow!” The people around them were filled with admiration.

The Sixth Prince, who received the ball, successfully used his exceptional footwork to complement the Fifth Prince’s ball skills.

Under the kicks and jostles of the Sixth Prince, the ball careened around the room, keeping the eunuchs busy as they scrambled to catch and return it to him.

The Fifth Prince laughed. “Why don’t we all play a passing game with Sixth Brother? Get the ball back to him, or even try heading it!”

And so, an indoor passing game began among everyone.

Xue Yao hadn’t played soccer since taking over this body.

He had decent skills in both basketball and soccer and now wanted to have some fun.

Although cuju was quite different from soccer, there were similarities. Xue Yao joined the passing game with a spirit of enjoyment, running across the field to receive and kick the ball.

The Fifth Prince observed his surprisingly skillful movements and thought that this little crybaby might also have a liking for cuju. He planned to invite him to play in the future.

While he was contemplating this, the ball that Xue Yao had just kicked happened to hit the Sixth Prince in the face.

There was a light “thud,” and the Sixth Prince crouched down, clutching his little face.

Xue Yao was greatly alarmed and hurried over to inquire, “Your Highness! Are you alright, Your Highness?”

The Sixth Prince’s attendants rushed over, pushed Xue Yao aside, and surrounded the little prince.

“How dare you!” A eunuch serving the little prince scolded Xue Yao with extreme anger. “You were here to amuse the young lord, not engage in a battle! You were acting recklessly. Follow me outside!”

He couldn’t reprimand the inexperienced reader-in-waiting in front of the little prince. He had just decided to take this unwise little reader-in-waiting out when he heard the Seventh Prince’s displeased and childish voice from behind.

“Liu Chun.”

It was the first time the eunuch Liu Chun had heard his name called by the three-year-old prince. He was taken aback since this little prince, who often appeared lost in thought, seemed to know his name!

“This servant is here.” Liu Chun approached respectfully and asked, “What are Your Highness’ orders?”

The Seventh Prince, focused on fiddling with his little pinwheel, said without much emotion, “Your Highness’ Yaoyao won’t follow you outside.”

Liu Chun rarely interacted with this reticent little prince and couldn’t comprehend this weird communication style.

Confused, he turned to look at Xue Yao, wondering what the young lord of Xue Yao meant.

Covering his face, the Sixth Prince twisted his body to avoid the readers-in-waiting who were checking on him. Suddenly, he lifted his face from his little hands, wearing an innocent smile, and said, “I was just scaring you all! It doesn’t hurt at all!”

His little nose was visibly reddened by the ball that had hit it a moment ago. As the pain subsided a bit, he immediately turned in the crowd, excitedly waving to Xue Yao. “A’Yao, come quickly, let’s continue playing ball!”

The group of readers-in-waiting: “……”

Xue Yao: “……”

Help! Is this adorable kid really going to melt my heart?

No wonder the Sixth Prince was the one with the best outcome among the brothers. He was practically a little angel!

The tense atmosphere in the room was dissolved by the Sixth Prince, and everyone resumed playing ball.

After some more practice, the Sixth Prince could barely juggle the ball five times. He then looked at Fifth Brother, seeking praise. “How was that?”

The Fifth Prince, looking rather miserable, reluctantly encouraged him, “It’s passable.”

The optimistic Sixth Prince took this as a highly commendable evaluation and excitedly played a bit longer.

When he got tired, he sat down next to Seventh Brother and asked in a hushed tone, “What does ‘passable’ mean?”

The Seventh Prince, focused on fiddling with his little pinwheel, calmly explained the mysterious word, “It means that you should continue telling stories instead of playing cuju.”

Xue Yao, on the side, couldn’t help but chuckle.

This discouragement was really not very tactful!

This chubby cub indeed had a penchant for sarcasm.

It was perfectly normal for the angelic Sixth Prince to not excel in his first attempt at playing cuju. “Passable” clearly meant that it was an acceptable performance. Why would he be advised to go back to telling stories?

Fortunately, the Sixth Prince wasn’t a child prodigy like Long Aotian, so he didn’t grasp the disdain in those words. He innocently replied, “But I also like playing cuju. How about this? After my brothers finish playing, I’ll tell you a story, alright?”

Seventh Prince: “I’m very tired, Big Brother.”

His Highness didn’t want to hear a story!

Xue Yao: “……”

There it was! The Seventh Prince’s classic excuse!

This little rascal was truly incorrigible!

Thankfully, the Sixth Prince was generous and still told a short story to Old Seventh before returning to play cuju.

Xue Yao took the opportunity to move his chair closer to the Seventh Prince and cleared his throat before saying, “Your Highness, you told me to wait, and I’ve been waiting all day. Is the story ready?”

The Seventh Prince’s hands, which had been fiddling with the little pinwheel, came to a halt. He turned to Xue Yao with a solemn expression.

Then, he suddenly began telling a story!

Without any warning, Xue Yao found himself bewildered by the narrative. It wasn’t until the part about “Wu Zuo discovering that the corpse wasn’t the criminal” that he came to his senses.

This little prince was actually narrating a criminal case story to him!

Was this the kind of story that Long Aotian found interesting during his childhood?

Wasn’t this disturbing and bloody?

Caught off guard by the opening and the complexity of the case, Xue Yao remained in a daze even after the story had concluded.

The Seventh Prince, having finished the story, remained expressionless. He reverted to silence and lowered his head to tinker with the little pinwheel.

Xue Yao regained his composure and knew that he should offer praise and encouragement at this point. He immediately spoke, “What an incredible story! It’s definitely more captivating than Kuafu Chasing the Sun. I was completely engrossed when Your Highness narrated it. I couldn’t anticipate the subsequent events, and the ending was a surprise. The monk turned out to be the criminal!”

The Seventh Prince, still focused on the his toy, calmly corrected, “Twin brother.”

“……” Xue Yao quickly amended his statement, “Oh, right, I meant the twin brother of the criminal who impersonated him. The two of them came up with this plan and even deceived the constable. It was thanks to Wu Zuo that they identified the corpse’s true identity!”

“Hmph.” Seventh Prince pouted.

Xue Yao: “……”

Is that a mocking expression, you chubby cub?

Who knew you’d tell such a complex story!

I didn’t even pay much attention in the beginning!

Who can distinguish between the criminal and his twin brother?

Xue Yao reminded himself to stay calm.

Children with emotional communication disorder mostly evoked sadness in those who encountered them. It was best to seek early treatment to avoid future situations where they might chop off someone’s ear at the slightest provocation.

So, with a thick skin, Xue Yao continued the topic of the story, “Your Highness, why do you like this story?”

Seventh Prince: “Zhou Ancheng.”

Using his limited memory, Xue Yao carefully recalled the name and realized that it was the name of the criminal’s twin brother in the story. He then asked, “Your Highness, do you find this character interesting? I also think his story is thrilling, and the line between good and evil is blurred. In the end, he even ended his life.”

Recalling the previous plot, Xue Yao added, “And he killed that corrupt official.”

The Seventh Prince paused in his fiddling with the little pinwheel and turned his head to look at Xue Yao. “Killed the corrupt official, then ended his life.”

“Huh?” Xue Yao was momentarily puzzled before he realized that he had misspoken. 

It was just a slip of the tongue!

“That’s what I meant,” Xue Yao argued, “I meant to say that he ultimately ended his life and also killed the corrupt official.”

The Seventh Prince continued to look at Xue Yao with a half-smile, as if observing something highly entertaining.

“I meant he also killed the corrupt official!” Xue Yao firmly insisted!

“Yaoyao,” the Seventh Prince said with an innocent smile.

“Ah?” Xue Yao thought he was calling for a truce.

“Ended his life, then killed the corrupt official,” the Seventh Prince emphasized with a smile.

Xue Yao was fuming!

Seeing the chubby cub’s excited little face, he realized there was no room for further argument.

Xue Yao accepted defeat but negotiated, “This story should not be repeated to anyone else.”

The Seventh Prince lowered his head and casually wiggled the windmill in his hand. “Her Highness will ask.”

“Even if she asks, you’re not allowed to tell it!”

The Seventh Prince raised an eyebrow and mischievously said, “Not allowed?”

Xue Yao: “…………”

This disobedient little rascal!

Can’t you learn a bit from your sixth brother?

To prevent his own foolish slip of the tongue from spreading, Xue Yao resorted to the ultimate strategy. He leaned closer to the Seventh Prince’s face and negotiated, “If Your Highness doesn’t tell anyone, I’ll give you a very delicious milk.”

The Seventh Prince, once again, narrowed his peach blossom eyes, reminiscent of Consort Xi, and waved his hand. “Many milk.”

His Highness was never short of milk!

Xue Yao raised his chin and looked down at the chubby cub with confidence. “The milk at my home is different from what Your Highness usually has. It’s exceptionally delicious.”

The Seventh Prince, however, remained indifferent and didn’t believe there could be exceptionally delicious milk.

They were all equally delicious!

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