The Tyrant’s Cannon Fodder Male Empress Chapter 42

Chapter 42

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“You can’t take it off!” The Fifth Prince turned and pounced, embracing the Seventh Prince from the side, attempting to shield him from their eldest brother’s view.

The Sixth Prince closely followed his fifth brother’s steps, embracing the Seventh Prince from the other side, forming a protective triangle around the food container in the middle to prevent Consort Tong from noticing!

Carrying twenty chicken legs and wrapped in a heavy cloak, and now enveloped by the warmth of his two elder brothers, the Seventh Prince suddenly let go of his aspirations.

Lost in a daze, he had no idea where he was. Beads of sweat trickled down the chubby cheeks of the Seventh Prince, gathering into a tiny stream at the tip of his chin, dripping onto his little belly with a soft pitter-patter.

“Do you want to smother him!” The Eldest Prince, desperate to save his youngest brother, took a quick step forward, separated the two younger brothers embracing the chubby brother as if he were a small chicken, and just as he was about to scold them, he caught sight of a strange cube rising behind the chubby brother…

“What is this…” Eldest Prince was puzzled, about to reach out and move the cloak to take a look when the Fifth Prince and the Sixth Prince vigorously shook their heads like tambourines.

The Eldest Prince’s phoenix-like eyes widened. While he hadn’t yet guessed what strange thing was hidden beneath the cloak, his intuition told him that these three little rascals were definitely concealing something they didn’t want others to see, which was why they refused to remove Old Seventh’s cloak.

Rescued from the embrace of his fifth and sixth brothers by the Eldest Prince, the Seventh Prince took a deep breath, feeling reborn.

“Your Highness, why haven’t you removed Old Seventh’s cloak?” Consort Tong spoke and then approached to help.

The Eldest Prince, fearing that his younger brothers might be hiding something truly unsavory, without second thoughts, knelt down and, bending forward, embraced the Seventh Prince with one arm, using his broader shoulder to conceal the strange cuboid behind Old Seventh!

The Seventh Prince, who had just breathed a sigh of relief, found himself once again enveloped in Eldest Brother’s warmth.

The despair etched on the chubby face had completely extinguished all dreams.

“Indeed, this cloak suits Seventh Brother perfectly!” The Eldest Prince held Seventh Brother closer, expressing his admiration with a solemn tone.

Consort Tong: “……”

An atmosphere of foolishness seemed to suddenly pervade the hall.

Fortunately, Consort Tong wasn’t genuinely concerned about Consort Xi’s son. Whether he removed the cloak or not, she had no intention to meddle. She had only put on a facade of motherly affection earlier.

Her visit to Eldest Prince was ostensibly to gain favor with the Empress, given that the birth mother couldn’t conveniently visit her son, who had been punished by the Emperor. In reality, Consort Tong wanted to ascertain whether the Eldest Prince was colluding with officials obstructing the repair of the Road to Shu.

Unexpectedly, just after a brief exchange of pleasantries and settling down, these three little rascals suddenly burst into the hall.

Unable to do otherwise, Consort Tong could only step back with a smile, allowing the four brothers to thoroughly appreciate the cloak.

The Eldest Prince, fearing the cuboid might be exposed, scooped up Seventh Brother and began to step back and sidle, always keeping a direct front towards Consort Tong.

Just like a crab, he carried Seventh Prince to a side study. The Eldest Prince didn’t forget to find an excuse for his weird behavior, scolding his younger brothers, “Instead of staying in the study hall, you dare to make a fuss in the Eastern Palace. Immediately go to the study for copying as punishment!”

The Fifth Prince and the Sixth Prince acted like two little guardians, shuffling sideways with Eldest Prince, always blocking the front to prevent Consort Tong from launching an attack.

Consort Tong watched the little princes affectionately, wisely choosing not to make a move.

Upon entering the study, the Eldest Prince set down his little brother and was about to lift the cloak.

“Hey!” The Fifth Prince and the Sixth Prince immediately rushed forward, tightly hugging the Eldest Prince’s arms.

They hadn’t even disclosed their preparations. Directly unveiling the mystery would lead to a beating!

However, the Eldest Prince, looking at his two younger brothers clutching his arms, had completely run out of patience.

Without waiting to expose the conspiracy beneath the cloak, the Eldest Prince swung his arm, using both hands to simultaneously smack the back of the heads of the Fifth Prince and the Sixth Prince, initiating an impromptu dynamic lesson.

“On such a scorching day! What’s going on? What’s going on? What’s going on?”

The Fifth and Sixth Princes scurried away, holding their heads!

The Eldest Prince caught whoever he could and gave them a good thrashing, but consistently steered clear of the chubby cub who remained motionless in front of him, opting to discipline his other two younger brothers.

His favoritism was maddening!

The Seventh Prince was secretly afraid of being smacked as well, but at this moment, he was sweltering, unable to breathe properly. Trying to run away with his chubby legs was worse than waiting for the inevitable.

The Fifth Prince and the Sixth Prince huddled in a corner, shielding their heads.

With no obstructions in his path, the indomitable Eldest Prince, full of determination, stooped and unfastened the ties of Old Seventh’s cloak.

The cloak slipped to the ground, revealing a square wooden food box strapped to the back of the chubby cub.

“What is this?” The Eldest Prince glared at his two brothers in the corner.

“It’s provisions for Old Seventh on his journey…” The Fifth Prince seemed extremely uneasy.

“To make sure he doesn’t go hungry…” The Sixth Prince couldn’t even convince himself.

“Provisions for the journey?” The Eldest Prince’s gaze grew fiercer. “Did you rush here from the border to visit me?”

The Fifth and Sixth Princes hung their heads in shame.

The Eldest Prince suspected they might be lying. He promptly knelt on one knee, expertly undoing the fastenings with a swift motion, and with a sharp “pop,” he opened the food box!

He discovered that it was crammed with…

Chicken legs?

“What is this…” The Eldest Prince wore an utterly baffled expression.

It really was provision!

Were his little brothers all fools?

The journey from the study hall to the Eastern Palace was just a few steps away. They had prepared a box of chicken legs and barged into his palace…

As he contemplated, an expression of disdain on the Eldest Prince’s face suddenly transformed!

All the peculiar and awkward behaviors of his brothers gradually connected in his mind.

The annoyance and anger on his face ebbed like a receding tide. He turned his head slowly, looking at the two brothers in the corner, battered and bruised, then turned back to gaze at the chubby cub suffocated under the cloak.

Those usually fierce and piercing phoenix-like eyes suddenly welled up with tears.

“Why are you all so foolish!” The Eldest Prince hastily stood up, turned away, and struggled to maintain his stern tone. “I thought you were hiding something unsavory! Who allowed you to…”

The three little princes looked up, puzzled, and stared at their tall and imposing eldest brother’s back, not understanding why he suddenly choked up.

The side chamber fell into complete silence.

After a while, the Eldest Prince, catching his breath, muttered with a slight tremor, “A bunch of little fools.”


Finally, after enduring till the Hungry Ghost Festival, Xue Yao thought the sleepless nights were coming to an end, only to discover that the nightmare continued.

The palace couldn’t obtain any information about the Road to Shu project. Whether natural disasters occurred or not, there was no one to inform him and Consort Xi.

It was likely that the news hadn’t yet reached the court, and the Emperor, showing remarkable patience, hadn’t questioned Qingqiong Hall about the matter in the past few days. He continued to favor Consort Xi as before.

Only when the end-of-month project summary was presented to the imperial desk did things finally have a resolution.

The report from the Ministry of Works summarized everything in one sentence: The project proceeded smoothly.

Upon seeing the document, the Emperor let out a cold laugh. His laughter concealed a month’s worth of suppressed anger and the satisfaction of accurately predicting success.

On the day he went to Qingqiong Hall, he informed Consort Xi of the results.

He had always suspected that Consort Xi and the blessing practitioner colluded to stage this prophetic drama.

This was different from the divination of the Directorate of Astronomy. Any involvement with witchcraft or sorcery within the palace was considered a grave offense.

The Emperor had long prepared to hold someone accountable for this matter, but he wasn’t genuinely seeking to have the blessing practitioner implicate Consort Xi. Instead, he intended to punish the blessing practitioner severely to serve as a warning to Consort Xi, deterring her from meddling in politics.

This was already a merciful act from the victor. Technically, it could have been a capital offense.

When Consort Xi received this news, her complexion instantly drained of color. The Emperor, moved by a sense of compassion, couldn’t help but show mercy. He magnanimously declared, “Don’t be afraid. It’s that cunning witch’s evil intentions. I won’t hold you responsible, and I won’t bother with an interrogation. I’ll just have her imprisoned for a few years, a minor punishment but a significant lesson. Others won’t press the matter.”

Consort Xi’s expression remained cold and rigid. She hadn’t expected the Emperor to be so magnanimous, but this didn’t put her at ease.

Her mind was filled with a whirlwind of thoughts, sometimes thinking about how she and her son were destined to face public scorn, and at other times, contemplating how Xue Yao’s prediction had not come true, which meant the Road to Shu project might not incite a rebellion after all.

Seeing Consort Xi still in a daze, the Emperor feared she might become ill, so he decided to let it go. He only requested that Consort Xi choose a different blessing practitioner to accompany her to Great Qi and have the original blessing practitioner sent back to her hometown promptly.

Xue Yao learned of this outcome the day after attending school.

“This can’t be true!” He jumped up from his chair, wide-eyed, and stared at Consort Xi. He earnestly said, “It can’t be! If there really was no disaster, why would the Emperor let us off so easily? Perhaps the Emperor is saving face…”

“The Emperor specifically showed me the Ministry of Works’ report because he was afraid I wouldn’t believe it,” Consort Xi said with a bitter smile to Xue Yao. “It’s alright. At least the Emperor isn’t holding us accountable, and… divination itself is prone to errors. If the natural disaster didn’t come to pass, perhaps the prediction of a rebellion won’t either. There’s still hope for us.”

Xue Yao’s face reddened all at once, unable to argue, and he hung his head low.

His thoughts raced, and suddenly his eyes lit up. He looked at Consort Xi and said, “It’s possible… it might be that the Ministry of Works concealed the information, painting a false picture of peace, to prevent the Emperor from blaming them for the construction’s failure!”

Consort Xi remained silent for a moment and then tried to console Xue Yao helplessly. “Forget it. For us, the outcome is already set. Matters in the court, even if we figure them out, are not within our control. It’s better not to dwell on it, to save ourselves from feeling discontented.”

Xue Yao had nothing more to say.

No amount of calculation could predict the unknown human heart.

It was highly likely that the disaster during the Hungry Ghost Festival had been suppressed by officials at multiple levels. That was why the Eldest Prince had specifically listed it as a reason when offering his advice.

The Emperor was probably unaware of this matter, or else the Eldest Prince wouldn’t have been able to bring it up to challenge his Father Emperor.

Xue Yao’s mood was not only one of despair but also one of not knowing how to face Consort Xi’s trust.

His prophecy, guaranteed with his life, had proven incorrect.

Dragging Consort Xi and her son, the Eldest Prince, the Director of the Directorate of Astronomy, and the blessing practitioner into this debacle had resulted in such a ludicrous outcome.

Consort Xi wanted him to finish his meal, but he declined with shame and left the palace in desolation.

For the first time, he had the thought of voluntarily resigning from his role as a reader-in-waiting.

It wasn’t just due to his inability to face others. The unpredictability of palace affairs was just too perilous.

The next day, during the court session, the Minister of Works, bearing a hastily delivered report, arrived at the Yangxin Hall, awaiting an audience.

After the Emperor read the newly arrived report, finding nothing of great importance, he was about to take a break. However, he suddenly remembered something and looked up at the Minister of Works. “The mountain roads are treacherous. There were no disasters that affected the labor force, right?”

The Minister of Works tensed up and looked at the Emperor cautiously. “Your Majesty, with your divine wisdom and the virtuous protection over the realm, all regions are naturally safe and sound.”

The Emperor didn’t think much of it and mumbled, “I heard there are often mountain torrents and landslides in Mount Liang. There was no trouble on the day of the Hungry Ghost Festival, was there?”

As soon as the words left his lips, the Minister of Works turned deathly pale, thinking that the Emperor had already learned of the matter.

Although he didn’t understand why he had been exposed, he panicked and fell to his knees. “This subject deserves death!”

The Emperor was taken aback. He had only mentioned the blessing practitioner’s prophecy as a jest, but he hadn’t expected this kind of reaction from the Minister of Works. His expression immediately changed!

Belatedly thanks to Candycorns for the support!! Hope you enjoy~

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