The Tyrant’s Cannon Fodder Male Empress Chapter 17

Chapter 17

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The Third Prince knitted his brow, letting out a surprised hiss. “What are you doing here? Qinghe mentioned that you were dismissed from the palace by Consort Xi after bungling your task.”

Xue Yao let out a relieved sigh, realizing that Consort Tong hadn’t informed the Third Prince about his situation.

Ever since his transfer to serve the Seventh Prince, there had been no chance to communicate with Qinghe. Qinghe might have believed that he was punished and expelled from the palace after going to Consort Xi’s residence to apologize.

Xue Yao nodded. “I was… reassigned to Qingqiong Hall as a reader-in-waiting and haven’t had the chance to see Your Highness since. Today…”

He didn’t dare mention being reassigned by Consort Xi, fearing that the Third Prince might suspect him of treachery or trying to please Consort Xi.

“What?” The Third Prince’s face lit up with an uncontrollable expression of amusement. “Transferred to Qingqiong Hall? You’re now serving as a reader-in-waiting for Old Seventh?”

Xue Yao: “Yes.”

The Third Prince burst into hearty laughter, playfully patting the Fourth Prince’s shoulder and gleefully pointing at Xue Yao. “Father Emperor noticed that my reader-in-waiting often teases Old Seventh, so, in a fit of anger, he reassigned this attendant to Old Seventh! Is he trying to have him closely torment Old Seventh? Hahahahahaha!”

The Fourth Prince clapped his hands, joining in the laughter.

The Third Prince stepped closer, raised his arm, put it around Xue Yao’s neck, and whispered, “You understand Father Emperor’s intentions, right? He’s concerned that you won’t have many opportunities by my side, so he wants you to be with Old Seventh all the time, taking care of him. Don’t let Father Emperor down!” With that, he roared in laughter again.

Xue Yao glanced down, his lips twitching as he shared a smile with the Third Prince.

“Aiya—” The Third Prince released Xue Yao with a sigh, wiped away the tears of laughter, and walked slowly to the side of the Sixth Prince. “What kind of look is that, Old Sixth? I feel uneasy seeing you like this. Why are your eyes still watery?”

The Sixth Prince’s arm had been pulled and hurt by him just a moment ago, making his eyes well up with tears. Lips pursed, he remained motionless, staring at the Third Prince.

“Wipe away those tears and give me a smile.” 

The Sixth Prince, being young and filled with fear and grievance, had lost his ability to move. He stood there with teary eyes, staring at the Third Prince in dread.

“Can’t you hear me, Old Sixth?” The Third Prince narrowed his eyes and menacingly threatened in a low voice, “Wipe. Those. Tears. Away.”

Suddenly, the Fifth Prince, standing nearby, hurriedly approached and swiftly wiped away the tears from his younger brother’s eyes with trembling hands.

“I want him to do it himself!” The Third Prince suddenly let out a thunderous roar!

The entire assembly of people shivered involuntarily.

The Sixth Prince and the Seventh Prince were directly brought to tears by his shouting.

The Third Prince raised his hand to shove the Fifth Prince’s shoulder, making him face him directly, and scolded, “Did I call for you to come over? I haven’t settled the score with you yet! You keep showing up in front of me all the time! How about letting Big Brother handle this cuju field in the future?”

The Fifth Prince lowered his head and dared not make eye contact.

The Sixth Prince covered his small face, sobbing softly with each gasp.

The Seventh Prince rubbed his eyes, looked around, and eventually, like a little penguin, waddled over to Fifth Brother, seeking comfort.

But at a time like this, the Fifth Prince didn’t dare to embrace him.

“Let’s not delay the Third Prince’s cuju game.” Xue Yao, looking at the two little cubs who were frightened, felt his heart break. He turned around with a smile and calmly suggested to the Fifth Prince, “Your Highness, how about we practice another day?”

The Fifth Prince had wanted to escape for a while, but he didn’t dare to make a move in front of the Third Prince. He was grateful to Xue Yao for providing an escape route. He nodded hurriedly, planning to take his little brothers and run.

“Don’t be in a rush!” The Third Prince blocked their way and laughed maliciously. “Since it’s rare for us brothers to come across each other, why not have a game of cuju together?”

Xue Yao’s mind buzzed.

Cuju inevitably involved physical collisions. Was the Third Prince attempting to give his little brothers a good thrashing?

Just as he was frantically trying to figure out a rescue plan, a hurried set of footsteps approached from the sidelines.

“Your Highness, Consort Tong requests your immediate return to Linyou Palace,” a young eunuch reported.

The Third Prince, upon hearing this, let out an irritated sigh, glared at the eunuch, then turned his attention back to his three little brothers. Reluctantly, he raised the back of his hand and patted the Fifth Prince’s face. “Wait for me, we brothers will have to compete sooner or later.”

He used a heavy and muffled strength, causing the Fifth Prince’s face to skew, yet the little prince dared not resist.

Currently, Consort Tong’s older brother was leading the troops to suppress the numerous Wokou pirates along the coastal areas. While the victories were more frequent than the losses, the Emperor still granted Consort Tong a certain degree of authority. So, which Consort or Concubine would dare to offend Consort Tong’s son?

As a nine-year-old, the Fifth Prince had some understanding of matters. After being reminded by his mother, he never dared to show disrespect to the Third Prince.

The Sixth and Seventh Princes didn’t understand much about adult matters. They had been bullied a few times in the past, with no one standing up for them, so they were both very afraid of the Third Prince.

Thankfully, the Third Prince had some reverence for his own mother. Upon hearing the summons, he didn’t dare delay. After issuing a stern warning, he turned and left.

The three cubs watched the Third Prince depart, their expressions resembling those who had survived a calamity.

The Sixth Prince, wearing a dazed expression, stifled his tears.

The Seventh Prince, led by Xue Yao, rubbed his little bun-like face against Xue Yao’s arm, unsure whether he was wiping away tears or seeking security.

Although the Third Prince had left, his loyal lapdog, the Fourth Prince, remained in place.

The smirk that had been present on the Fourth Prince’s face earlier had disappeared. His brows were furrowed while looking at his three little brothers.

After a while, he sighed and approached them, ruffled the soft hair of Old Seventh, then turned to face the eldest of the three with a reproachful tone. “Why did you have to bring them to the cuju field in front of the school? Couldn’t you have taken a detour to play by pond at the back garden? Must you be disciplined by Third Brother before you learn your lesson!”

The Fifth Prince, feeling embarrassed, nodded and replied, “I understand. I won’t come to this field for practice again.”

The Fourth Prince nodded with a solemn expression. “Hurry and take Old Sixth and Old Seventh to eat something, get some rest. They were surely frightened just now, so help them recover.”

Xue Yao was somewhat perplexed.

This Fourth Prince didn’t seem to be the typical sycophantic villain from the novel, did he?

Was his obedience an act put on for the Third Prince?

In the novel, the Fourth Prince had a role similar to his, just briefly mentioned. The Fourth Prince’s mother was a palace maid.

The Emperor, on a whim, had favored the palace maid and, lo and behold, she bore the Fourth Prince. She was promoted to as a Noble Lady, but her status remained lowly.

This explained why the Fourth Prince needed to find powerful allies.


After the palace maid left and the serving girl announced that the Third Prince had arrived, Consort Tong got up to meet her son.

As she entered the side hall, she saw her son chatting and laughing with the Fourth Prince born to that palace maid. Though Consort Tong felt repulsed, she maintained a gracious demeanor, greeting both children warmly and instructing a servant to bring the Emperor’s gift of jade-studded eight-treasure cakes.

“Your Highness is looking for me?” The Third Prince greeted his mother with a nonchalant attitude.

“Have you been provoking your younger brothers again?” In front of the Fourth Prince, Consort Tong didn’t show any displeasure on her face, merely playfully chiding her son.

“Who’s been falsely accusing me again?” The Third Prince furrowed his brow. “I was just about to teach them cuju skills, and we were getting along fine. Then you had someone fetch me, accusing me unjustly!”

Consort Tong cast a sidelong glance, her expression subtly cold. “Did I accuse you unjustly?”

The Third Prince shivered, lowered his head, and didn’t dare to speak.

Silence filled the chamber.

Palace maids discreetly placed the cakes on the tea table between the Third Prince and the Fourth Prince.

The cake box was exquisitely crafted. It was a tribute from Borui, many of them adorned with gemstone decorations, including the cake boxes.

Consort Tong didn’t want to embarrass her son in front of others. After giving him a gentle scolding, she offered a sweet date and said, “Taste these cakes, there are two boxes in total. The Emperor sent one to the Empress Dowager, and this one is a special reward for me. I don’t want to eat it, so I’ve saved it for you and your fourth brother to enjoy.”

Despite Consort Tong’s rise to power, she remained modest and wouldn’t offend influential figures in the palace.

Her son had an inexplicable tendency to clash with Old Seventh. Logically, there should be some discord between her and Old Seventh’s mother, but it wasn’t the case.

Consort Xi had treated Consort Tong like a sister before the scented pouch incident. It was only after Xue Yao’s warning that she became cautious. This showcased Consort Tong’s exceptional social skills.

Even towards the Fourth Prince born of a lowly concubine, Consort Tong never displayed a hint of disdain.

In contrast, the Empress had explicitly forbidden her son from associating with the Fourth Prince. Otherwise, the Fourth Prince would have sided with the Eldest Prince long ago.

As the palace maid was about to open the cake box, the Third Prince pressed it shut with his hand. “I have no appetite! Mother Consort can enjoy it herself!”

Consort Tong felt helpless dealing with her son’s lack of manners. Even if she were to have another son, she couldn’t rely on this foolish child as her future support.

Despite her inner irritation, Consort Tong maintained a pleasant expression. “Your Father Emperor has recently been complaining that I’ve become too plump. I can’t even have a bite of these sweet treats. If you don’t eat them, it’s a waste of good food.”

The Third Prince wore a stern expression, displeased with his mother’s favoritism toward Old Seventh.

His strong aversion to Old Seventh was quite simple. He couldn’t stand Old Seventh’s reputation as a child prodigy, which had touched a nerve.

The Third Prince struggled with his studies, and his Father Emperor and Mother Consort frequently scolded him for not working hard. However, he wasn’t in a hurry, believing he had plenty of time to catch up.

That little mongrel from an outside clan was truly remarkable, with a seemingly photographic memory.

Two months ago, the Emperor had tested the knowledge of the princes. The Third Prince stumbled through his recitation, unable to recall the content.

To everyone’s astonishment, the little Seventh Prince, while casually playing with a small toy, effortlessly recited the very content that had stumped the Third Prince.

The shame left the Third Prince wanting to disappear, wishing he could tear that fat little scamp into pieces.

Faced with such humiliation, his Mother Consort not only failed to support him but hindered him at every turn, which only added to his frustration.

Consequently, the Third Prince deliberately defied Consort Tong and pushed the precious cakes over to Fourth Brother, venting his anger. “You can enjoy these! I don’t want to eat them anyway!”

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