The Tyrant’s Cannon Fodder Male Empress Chapter 44

Chapter 44

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The basic shop had nine slots, with the remaining six slots dedicated to fabric, wood, steel, herbs, crop seeds, and books.

Xue Yao carefully examined the requirements for unlocking the intermediate shop and found that, unlike the basic shop, the Whitewashing Points required to open the intermediate shop varied.

The most expensive to unlock was the Temporal Reference Line Market, followed by the Bookstore, with 300 points for Level 2 and 2000 points for Level 1.

Next were markets for herbs and crop seeds, requiring 250 points for Level 2 and 1500 points for Level 1.

Finally, there were markets for fabric, wood, and steel, which required the same Whitewashing Points as the Foodmart to unlock.

The side quest to activate each of the nine slots in the intermediate shop differed.

Xue Yao did some calculations and realized that these 10,000+ Whitewashing Points couldn’t be spent casually. Oherwise, it wouldn’t be enough to unlock all the Level 1 shops.

However, upon second thought, he couldn’t complete most of the required quests.

He was clueless about the【Unblock the Du and Ren meridians】quest for the Level 2 Foodmart.

To unlock the Level 2 Apothecary, the quest required was to【Control the Epidemic in Pingrong County】.

He didn’t even know where Pingrong County was. He estimated he had no way of completing it.

With more shop options available, Xue Yao found his interest piqued, particularly in the Bookstore, aside from the Foodmart.

It wasn’t that he was particularly studious, but rather because the marketplace might occasionally refresh with highly specialized reference books. If he could find technical books that had played a significant role in advancing ancient society, even if he didn’t delve into them himself, he could fetch a good price.

After carefully planning his future, Xue Yao felt that pursuing a business venture was a promising path.

In this era, merchants still occupied the lower rungs of the social hierarchy alongside scholars, farmers, and craftsmen. However, with his unique and constant resource supply, the path of commerce was the only one that would broaden over time.

As for the imperial examination to become an official, he quickly dismissed the idea.

Having endured the upheavals of the Road to Shu project, he had a clear measure of his political acumen.

The intentions of rulers were inscrutable, and with two major political upheavals looming in the future, he was acutely aware that no matter which side he aligned with, it could lead to his demise.

So, his ultimate life plan was to settle down and watch the chubby cub grow up in peace.

By nurturing relationships and staying clear of the officialdom, when the chubby cub managed to rise to the throne, he could rely on his relationship with the Emperor to become a prominent magnate in the imperial capital.


And so, Xue Yao continued to lead a peaceful childhood alongside the Long Aotian cub.

Three years later, Concubine Zhou’s father was exonerated, and he was reinstated in his official position.

To curry favor with his father-in-law, Master Xue shamelessly prepared to divorce his wife and elevate his concubine. Madam Chen nearly hung herself in despair, but he still couldn’t retain Concubine Zhou

Leveraging her father’s influence, Concubine Zhou pressured Master Xue into writing a document restoring her freedom. She moved into her father’s old residence, which had been unsealed. She chose not to remarry.

Due to this, the head of the Xue family, Old Master Xue, was not pleased. However, Old Madam Xue still regarded Xue Yao as her grandson and didn’t remove him from the family register.

Xue Yao had no objections towards Old Madam Xue and often visited the Xue residence, but he intentionally bypassed the third courtyard.

Six years had passed in a blink of an eye.

In this year, the Fifth Prince had just turned eighteen, and the Sixth Prince was fifteen. Both had started to display the appearance of young men.

Even the twelve-year-old chubby cub was experiencing a rapid growth spurt, his height catching up swiftly.

His once round face, like a steamed bun, gradually transformed into a handsome visage reminiscent of Long Aotian. However, the baby fat on his cheeks was proving stubborn and seemed to linger, possibly due to Xue Yao having nursed him extensively.

All of this made Xue Yao unable to ignore one fact — the little boys were growing up fast.

Seventeen-year-old Xue Yao had developed a tall and slender physique, lean yet full of youthful vigor.

He inherited Concubine Zhou’s flawless porcelain-like complexion and exquisite features. His phoenix-like eyes held a unique charm.

Reliving his adolescence, Xue Yao’s heart for showing off resurfaced. He spent a good amount of Whitewashing Points to exchange for fabric and crafted several sets of elegant attire with wide sleeves and elaborate belts.

He aspired to emulate the Eldest Prince.

Over the years, as he had occasional interactions with the imperial princes, Xue Yao’s admiration for the Eldest Prince grew day by day. He believed that a man should become someone like the Eldest Prince, a gentleman exuding authority and grace.

As a result, Xue Yao’s choice of style always followed the aesthetic of the Eldest Prince.

It could be said that he was a typical little fanboy!

Last month, the Fifth Prince invited Xue Yao to join this year’s autumn hunt.

The Seventh Prince had embarked on his first hunting expedition two years ago, while Xue Yao had not prepared riding gear and had not received systematic archery training. He had never participated in an autumn hunt before, and he had no intention to.

But upon hearing the Sixth Prince say, “My Eldest Brother will be there,” Xue Yao accepted the Fifth Prince’s invitation, marking his first participation in the autumn hunt!

Xue Yao was more suited for endurance and skill-based sports, like cuju, whereas activities like hunting didn’t quite match his abilities. It demanded a high level of dynamic vision and explosiveness, putting a strain on one’s innate talents.

So, on the day of the autumn hunt, while he watched the readers-in-waiting continually draw bows and engage in hunting, Xue Yao remained aloof, carrying his bow and resolutely refusing to take part and risk embarrassing himself.

The southern hunting ground had already been prepared, with soldiers herding a large number of game animals into the Emperor’s preferred hunting area.

Before long, the Fifth Prince, armed with his bow, arrived swiftly on horseback at the hunting area where Xue Yao was standing.

Palace maids and eunuchs immediately greeted him and respectfully removed the bow from his shoulders, offering him a quiver of arrows.

“A’Yao! Why are you dressed like this for hunting?” The Fifth Prince’s commanding voice remained as domineering as ever. He reined in his horse a few yards away.

Clad in brown riding attire, he projected a commanding aura, his long limbs outlined by the hard leather bracers on his wrists and lower legs. With his sword-like brows and starry eyes, he already exuded the aura of a future general on the battlefield.

“I didn’t bring riding attire.” Xue Yao quickly approached, glancing behind him. “The Eldest Prince didn’t come with you?”

“He and Old Sixth went to the eastern part of the hunting ground. If you didn’t have riding attire, why didn’t you say so earlier? How can you move freely dressed like that?” The Fifth Prince turned his head and ordered a young eunuch to fetch a set of his own riding attire for Xue Yao to change into.

“No need, Your Highness.” Xue Yao hadn’t originally planned to demonstrate his archery skills. He was content to go with the flow and observe the hunting prowess of the Eldest Prince. His trip wouldn’t be in vain.

“Why not?” The Fifth Prince’s stubbornness was as relentless as ever. He stood with his hands on his hips, directing Xue Yao, “Dressed like this, with your sleeves reaching the bowstring, your aim will be off! I bet you won’t hit the target. Give it a try!”

“Just watching Your Highness hunt is enough for me.” Xue Yao had grown weary of the Fifth Prince’s antics over the past nine years.

When they first met, the Fifth Prince had injured Xue Yao during an arm-wrestling match, and later, an “Iron Sand Palm” strike to the forehead made the Fifth Prince convinced that Xue Yao could have a lethal internal injury at any moment.

Consequently, over these years, the Fifth Prince had an inherent sense of guilt towards Xue Yao, treating him with exceptional care and practically mentoring him like a younger brother.

Despite being only a year older than Xue Yao, he always displayed an elder brother’s authority and would incessantly lecture him about principles from the very beginning.

Xue Yao was nearly fed up with it. To make matters worse, this had earned the envy of the other readers-in-waiting.

In the eyes of the other readers-in-waiting, the Fifth Prince and the Sixth Prince were both partial to Xue Yao, even the quirky and mischievous Seventh Prince rarely bothered Xue Yao.

In any case, it was a mixed blessing that the imperial princes all had Xue Yao in their thoughts. He often ended up bearing the brunt of their pranks and antics.

It was unclear what methods Xue Yao had used privately to win the favor of the princes.

So, as the Fifth Prince focused on the hunt, a few readers-in-waiting exchanged meaningful glances, their expressions dark and intent as they approached Xue Yao.

Here they go again. Just by looking at the expressions on their faces, Xue Yao knew they were up to their old tricks.

It was truly exasperating. This wasn’t the imperial harem. They were attendants. What was the point of all this internal rivalry?

Even if you gain favor, the princes won’t let you bear a dragon’s seed or anything like that, will they?

No way around it, they were all a bunch of seventeen or eighteen-year-old youngsters with an excess of energy.

“It’s the first time Young Master Xue has joined the autumn hunt. How about showing us your skills today?” The leader of the group was the Fifth Prince’s reader-in-waiting, named Chang Shun, who had just turned eighteen. He had a robust physique and a square face, the kind that appeared mature beyond his years.

Xue Yao smiled politely and replied, “I’m not a hunter at all. Today, I’ve come to witness His Highness’ mighty display.”

“Don’t be so modest!” Chang Shun sneered. “We, brothers, have a tradition of competing in the autumn hunt every year. We score one point for rabbits and wild chickens, and five points for deer and wild boars. We gather at the beginning of the hour of the Rooster to count scores. The three teams with the lowest scores will each contribute ten taels of silver to treat the first-place team to a meal. How does that sound? Since, Second Young Master Xue is here, how about joining in and adapting to local customs? You can either team up with a buddy or go solo.”

Definitely, no one would want to be on Xue Yao’s team since he didn’t know how to shoot. In essence, they just wanted to fleece him.

Xue Yao smiled but didn’t respond, casting a hopeful glance toward the distant figure of the Fifth Prince, wishing he’d come out and take control of his attendants.

Once the Fifth Prince began hunting, he was entirely absorbed in it, his eyes and ears attuned to every sound and movement in the woods. He didn’t notice Xue Yao’s eager gaze at all.

The palace maids behind Xue Yao were whispering among themselves:

“The Fifth Prince looks the most handsome in this brown riding attire, especially with those wrist and leg guards. It makes his arms and legs seem especially long.”

“You didn’t see the Crown Prince’s white riding attire with gold patterns. That’s what you call an imposing presence!”

“I still think the Sixth Prince looks best in riding attire.”

“Any outfit on the Sixth Prince looks comfortable to the eye!”

“I bet you find the Sixth Prince quite comfortable to look at, don’t you?”

“If we’re talking about the most eye-catching, it’s the Seventh Prince, whose handsome appearance is becoming even more prominent.”

“The Seventh Prince is still so young. I remember two years ago when I helped him change into riding attire in the tent, we struggled to put on the wrist guards. Have you seen how chubby his little arms are?”

“How chubby are they?” The youthful voice of the Seventh Prince suddenly rang out from behind the palace maids.

“Aah!” The palace maid who had criticized the little prince’s chubbiness in secret was so startled that she nearly jumped. The other maids turned around and bowed in greeting. Only then did she nervously turn around, peeking at the Seventh Prince’s expression.

The youth in dark purple riding attire raised his chin slightly, lowered his long eyelashes and curled his lips. His pair of peach blossom eyes held a smile that was not quite a smile as he fixed his gaze on the flustered palace maid in the middle.

“Your Highness?” Xue Yao clung to the Seventh Prince’s sleeve like he had found a lifeline, circling around the palace maid. “Do you know how to hunt?”

With this question, the palace maids and eunuchs in the vicinity struggled not to burst into laughter.

They had been serving the young lord during the autumn hunt year after year. Everyone knew that the Seventh Prince possessed a remarkable talent for archery. Ever since he tried a crossbow for the first time at the age of nine, he had won the Emperor’s favor.

In the palace, not many had seen the Seventh Prince practice archery, yet every year, he made astonishing progress. This year, he was likely to outshine several older princes.

And here was this reader-in-waiting asking the Seventh Prince if he could hunt!

The attendants suppressed their laughter, eagerly awaiting the Seventh Prince’s response to Xue Yao.

The Seventh Prince cast a lazy, sidelong glance at Xue Yao, saying nothing, as if asking what he was up to.

“Chang Shun asked me to join the hunting competition, and it’s teams of two,” Xue Yao rushed to ask, “Your Highness, can you shoot arrows?”

“Not really,” the Seventh Prince grinned, revealing a pair of small, sharp canines. He took the bow from Xue Yao’s hand, deliberately holding it the wrong way, striking an archery pose, and asked with a serious expression, “Like this?”

Xue Yao was deeply disappointed, exasperatedly correcting the direction of the Seventh Prince’s bow. “This side should be facing outward, and the arrows come out from here. Your Highness, do you understand?”

The other attendants nearby: “? ? ? ? ?”

Why did the Seventh Prince suddenly forget how to do it?

As the Seventh Prince’s closest attendant, Xue Yao genuinely believed that the Seventh Prince couldn’t shoot arrows. This cub, due to emotional difficulties, usually didn’t understand how to talk about himself to others. In the palace, he never practiced archery. The last memory Xue Yao had of him was the skill level of a chubby three-year-old who had accidentally hit his own toes with an arrow!

A/N: Why didn’t Xue Yao know that the Seventh Prince could shoot arrows: 

① When he participated for the first time, the Seventh Prince was just nine. In total, he had only gone to the hunt three times. Father Emperor praised him for his natural talent, but his performance wasn’t spectacular enough to become common knowledge and a topic of discussion. 

② The palace maid and eunuchs in the hunting ground present back then were specially assigned and not part of the Seventh Prince’s entourage. This was the first time Xue Yao was visiting the hunting ground.

Thanks so much to LBK for the support! Enjoy~~~

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