The Tyrant’s Cannon Fodder Male Empress Chapter 59

Chapter 59

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Respected Elder Liu walked in, constantly contemplating. He hoped the Crown Prince wouldn’t purchase expensive grain. Only a few trusted court officials, including himself, should handle it.

Xue Yao was merely accompanying the Sixth Prince on a tour in Jiangsu and Zhejiang. There was no need to jeopardize the Crown Prince’s matters to such an extent.

Upon reflection, Xue Yao might have indeed devised a solution, but why did it involve further inflating grain prices?

Respected Elder Liu decided to stop overthinking. Since Xue Yao had already taken the responsibility, if he didn’t cooperate, he could shift the blame onto him if things went wrong.

He might as well follow Xue Yao’s instructions with his eyes closed.

The three of them, along with several attendants, split into three groups and approached the grain trading hall one after the other. They pretended to be unfamiliar grain merchants from out of town, found separate seats in the hall, and waited in line for the manager’s reception.

The people sitting around were all merchants from out of town who had come to buy grain.

Everyone was anxious at this moment, whispering and cursing the grain merchants for being unscrupulous. They vowed that next year, they would definitely go to Huguang to collect grain.

Xue Yao made a deliberate noise by putting his teacup on the table, drawing the attention of those around him. He spoke in the Jinling dialect with an accepting tone, “Grain merchants from all regions are unscrupulous this year! It’s not entirely their fault, blame it on the weather. A snowless winter and continuous heavy rain for half a month this summer have flooded many farmlands.”

“Indeed,” Respected Elder Fang immediately followed Xue Yao’s earlier instructions, pretending to be concerned. “This year, even the common people in various regions have had good harvests, but they can barely produce enough grain to pay their taxes to the court. The surplus grain is barely enough to feed their own families for a year. How can they have extra to sell to grain merchants?”

“Indeed, don’t even mention Zhejiang,” Respected Elder Liu spoke with an air of authority, making his words convincing. Although he spoke with eloquence, he fabricated with vivid detail, “I’ve visited the grain shops in Jinling City, and I’ve been to the grain markets in Huguang and Henan. The grain prices in those places are nothing but expensive, even more so than in Zhejiang!”

“Ah, I’ve just rushed here from Jinling to collect grain in Zhejiang,” Xue Yao complained in a rustic accent. “Even the lowest-grade rice in Jinling’s major grain shops is selling for nearly six hundred copper coins. It’s said that officials and merchants from the capital are buying up grain everywhere, preparing to lend it to the people in disaster-stricken counties. If we want to buy, we better do it quickly. If we delay, even if we have silver in hand, there won’t be any grain left to buy!”

The group of grain merchants around them paled.

Some looked suspicious, doubting whether Xue Yao and his group were hired by the grain merchants to deliberately deceive them into buying overpriced grain.

A few merchants anxiously questioned Xue Yao, asking where he had heard this information.

Xue Yao explained that his maternal grandfather held a position in the capital and had sent letters advising them to stock up on grain as soon as possible. However, the letter got delayed on the way, and by the time they saw it, grain prices had already risen.

The surrounding merchants remained skeptical, only half-believing.

The shop assistant who had been eavesdropping faithfully reported every word he heard to the manager.

“So, those two merchants from the capital bought such high-priced grain for the sake of lending to disaster-stricken people,” the manager faithfully relayed the matter to the proprietor of the grain trading shop.

“No wonder they were willing to pay even six hundred and forty copper coins. With so many disaster victims, as long as they add a bit of interest, they can earn a full pot of money next year!”

After half a month had passed, the proprietor of the largest grain trading shop finally grasped the true purpose behind those two groups of merchants spending heavily on grain.

The proprietor’s face revealed a hint of envy. “I should have recognized their significant background. They carried the air of the imperial family. How could common merchants dare to lend grain to the residents of multiple counties simultaneously? If the court investigates, even their heads won’t be spared. We can’t aspire to such ventures.”

The news spread rapidly, and the next day, grain prices in both large and small grain shops in Hangzhou rose by another twenty copper coins.

Respected Elder Liu was on the verge of fainting, with cries of “Master Xue” echoing around him, as he pleaded for Xue Yao to provide an explanation.

If this continued, grain prices were really going to skyrocket!

Xue Yao remained calm and assured him to be patient.

Because he was concerned about potential spies within the Crown Prince’s entourage, Xue Yao had not explained his plan to anyone. He was the only one taking the risk.

As long as the people around him didn’t understand what he was up to, they couldn’t undermine his plans in secret.

On the third day, grain prices increased by another ten copper coins.

Unable to sit still, Respected Elder Liu, fearing repercussions for delaying matters, sent his young eunuch to inform the Crown Prince about Xue Yao’s unusual actions. He hoped to lessen his own guilt in this way.

When the Crown Prince learned of this, he remained remarkably composed. He lifted the teacup lid and softly stated, “Xue Yao said he’d take full responsibility. You must carry out his instructions in all matters. He didn’t ask you to deliver reports, so you’re not allowed to deliver them to anyone. If this happens again, you’ll receive twenty lashes.”

The eunuch was frightened, trembling all over, repeatedly begging for forgiveness. He withdrew and went back to relay the Crown Prince’s orders to Respected Elder Liu.

Respected Elder Liu, stunned by this turn of events, couldn’t help but admire Xue Yao even more.

It was no wonder why the eunuchs in Qingqiong Hall often gossiped about Xue Yao, saying that Consort Xi pampered the second young master of the Xue family as if he were her own son.

The mischievous seventh prince was particularly obedient to Xue Yao. No matter how much he misbehaved, a few words of persuasion from Xue Yao would quickly bring the young prince back in line.

This young man appeared carefree and uncalculating on the surface, but his inner cunning seemed unfathomable.

On the fourth day, grain prices rose by another five copper coins.

Xue Yao remained steadfast in his approach.

The Sixth Prince was extremely disheartened.

He was accustomed to shouldering blame for all failures, especially considering he had been duped out of some silver and had purchased dozens of sacks of spoiled grain not long ago.

If the Crown Prince failed in this grain procurement, it was likely the Sixth Prince would face a difficult few months.

The Crown Prince, in fact, felt quite frustrated, not knowing what Xue Yao was up to.

But what could the Crown Prince do?

Trusting or not trusting people was a dilemma. The market price for grain had climbed past seven hundred copper coins, and even if it got more expensive, he couldn’t afford it anyway.

Perhaps it was best to appease his younger brother.

The Crown Prince took the Sixth Prince to explore the market, and the Sixth Prince brought Xue Yao along.

Xue Yao, in reality, felt even more frustrated. He had taken full responsibility for this matter, and his own life was at stake. He had no inclination for shopping.

In truth, he had confidence in his plan, but given the gravity of the situation, there was no guarantee of one hundred percent success. He had considered two possible outcomes.

The best outcome was to bring grain prices down to around five hundred and fifty wen.

The worst outcome was that the failure would cause grain prices to skyrocket, forcing the Crown Prince to abandon this grain purchase.

Delaying or canceling this crucial reform would be a mixed blessing for the Crown Prince. As for Xue Yao, if he messed up such a significant matter, he was likely to face the consequences.

With a heavy heart, the two princes and Xue Yao traveled along, their thoughts elsewhere, casually discussing the customs and people of Hangzhou.

Passing by a grand tavern, they heard the melodious singing of a woman from inside.

No longer wanting to engage in idle conversation with the Crown Prince, they suggested entering the tavern to listen to the singing.

The three of them found a quiet spot in the tavern with few patrons, where they could finally focus on their own thoughts.

This tranquility was hard for Xue Yao to endure. He discreetly glanced at the Crown Prince and noticed a faint furrow in his brow, clearly still worried about the incessant rise in grain prices.

Xue Yao hadn’t anticipated that the Crown Prince would remain so composed, completely letting go and not inquiring about the details of his plans.

This level of trust deeply moved Xue Yao, and he wanted to ease the Crown Prince’s concerns. So, he began, “Your Highness, there’s no need to worry…”

Both the Crown Prince and the Sixth Prince’s eyes lit up. They turned their attention to Xue Yao, waiting for him to provide the reasons why “there’s no need to worry.”

But as Xue Yao spoke, he realized he didn’t have a foolproof plan to bring grain prices down. So, he changed tack and consoled, “Good fortune comes to those who deserve it!”

The two princes were left even more despondent.

It seemed that now they could only rely on fate!

Just then, from the north side of the tavern, a sudden commotion broke out, and the woman’s singing came to an abrupt halt.

Xue Yao turned to look and saw a man in luxurious clothing, accompanied by a group of servants, climbing onto the stage. He lecherously toyed with and harassed the songstress.

“Master, please release me!” The songstress was held back by several men, struggling desperately.

Seeing a disturbance, the tavern’s patrons promptly settled their bills and began to leave.

It seemed that the troublemaker was a person of importance. Otherwise, even if no one intervened to help, there should have been curious onlookers among the common people.

“These scoundrels!” The Sixth Prince rose indignantly, slamming his hand on the table. “To dare do such a thing in broad daylight…”

“Sixth Brother,” the Crown Prince signaled with his eyes, urging him not to act rashly.

Their positions were sensitive. It was unwise to draw too much attention.

“Eldest Brother!” The Sixth Prince spoke with a hint of dismay. “Shouldn’t we help that young lady?”

“We should report it to the authorities.” The Crown Prince motioned to the innkeeper, preparing to settle the bill and leave.

Meanwhile, on the stage, the troublemakers had already started to forcibly remove the woman’s outer garment.

Several musicians who accompanied the performance dared to step forward to intervene but were knocked down by the ruffians.

The man leading the disturbance had yet to notice someone had approached him. He only turned his head when he heard one of his henchmen exclaim, “What are you doing?”

The Crown Prince wasted no words, drawing his longsword from his side.

With two muffled thuds, the man who had been harassing the songstress felt the hilt of the sword strike his wrist, then thrust into his chest, causing him to stagger back three steps.

The sword hadn’t left its sheath, but its blade shifted. The Crown Prince held it horizontally in front of the songstress, like a protective barrier.

“If you don’t want to die, roll out of here immediately,” the Crown Prince coldly declared.

The group of troublemakers instantly seethed with anger. They stepped back a few paces, regrouping and awaiting a signal from their leader to attack, preparing to encircle the “fair-faced scholar” causing trouble.

With a series of thuds and clangs, the Crown Prince’s sword still sheathed, the group of burly men was sent flying and tumbled off the stage.

The leader of the troublemakers, witnessing this, shouted in anger, “You bunch of useless idiots, just watch me…”

While he continued to curse, he reached for the dagger concealed in his pocket.


A sharp, piercing sound of steel sliding against steel filled the air. In the blink of an eye, the man realized, as he lowered his head, that the razor-sharp tip of the sword was quivering slightly and aimed directly at his throat.

What a swift sword!

The Crown Prince slightly lifted the sword’s tip and raised his chin in a half-threatening manner, glaring at the troublemaker as he spoke again, “Get lost.”

Xue Yao, who had rushed to the stage, witnessed this scene and was nearly overwhelmed by the sheer handsomeness of it all!

The little fanboy thought this was the highlight of his life!

The man with the sword at his throat dared not move but wore a sinister expression on his face.

Hearing the outsider’s accent from this young man in white, the man ground his teeth and spoke, “Where did this short-lived fool come from? You have the guts of a bear and the heart of a leopard! Do you know who my father is?”

“Could it be someone with an official position?” The Crown Prince pretended to be surprised.

“Exactly! Go and find out who Huo Qitai is, then come meddle in other people’s affairs!” The man glared.

“Since he’s an official,” the Crown Prince remained calm, “allowing his son to engage in wrongdoing only adds to the crime, doesn’t it?”

The man was taken aback. “I bet you won’t shed a tear until you see the coffin! My father is a county magistrate!”

The Crown Prince sneered and retorted, “Do you know who my father is?”

Xue Yao, at the foot of the stage: “………………”

Don’t suddenly start flaunting your father, Your Highness!

It’s too overwhelming!

The man, taken aback by the question, carefully assessed the young man in white once more.

His accent distinct to people in the capital city, coupled with his exceptional aura and remarkable martial skills, there was a chance he might be the offspring of some noble lady.

With a sense of caution, the man inquired, “Who is your father?”

In an instant, the Crown Prince sheathed his sword and kicked the man off the stage with one foot. He then turned, bent down to lift the songstress, and sprinted towards the exit of the tavern!

The Crown Prince, who had been dashing for only three seconds, left the Sixth Prince and Xue Yao with one lofty phrase, “Quickly run! He doesn’t recognize us!”

Xue Yao: “……”

The group of people who had been knocked over by the Crown Prince was seething with anger, but with injured legs, they couldn’t get up immediately.

Xue Yao and the Sixth Prince helped the young musician to his feet and, along with the other musicians, fled the tavern.

They chased after the Crown Prince for three miles, nearly losing sight of him several times. When they finally caught up, Xue Yao was panting so heavily that he felt he might pass out.

The Sixth Prince, on the other hand, was full of energy and asked the young musician with great concern if he was injured.

After setting down the songstress from his shoulder, the Crown Prince nodded and said, “I apologize if I offended you, Miss.”

The songstress immediately went weak in the knees and knelt down, expressing her gratitude, “Many thanks, Young Master, for saving my life!”

The group of musicians who had caught up were also panting heavily, their faces turning pale.

Xue Yao couldn’t help but complain inwardly about the chubby cub.

It was precisely because the Seventh Prince refused to practice martial arts and keep fit that Xue Yao rarely had the opportunity to exercise.

Glancing over, he saw that the Sixth Prince, two years his junior, had run the entire way as if it were a game. Meanwhile, Xue Yao and a group of musicians were struggling to catch their breath. He couldn’t help feeling resentful.

Nevertheless, in this life of indulgence and good food, at least he had the chubby cub to be “weak reeds in the wind” alongside him.

With a reliable older brother like the Crown Prince to protect him, that was enough. He just needed to help the Crown Prince succeed in his reform efforts. It didn’t matter if the chubby cub remained a bit pampered.

Thinking this way, Xue Yao looked at Crown Prince with admiration.

Meanwhile, the Crown Prince was helping the songstress to her feet.

Thanks to Addy_ for the support! Enjoy :)

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