The Tyrant’s Cannon Fodder Male Empress Chapter 62

Chapter 62

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“I’ll wait a bit longer!” Xue Yao walked back into the courtyard with a thick-skinned face, pretending to talk to a palace maid, but in reality, he was shouting to the side hall, “What is His Highness busy with? Aiya, I haven’t seen His Highness in these few days, and I just can’t wait. Aunt, can you please make an exception and let me in to talk to His Highness?”

The moment these words left his mouth—

【Congratulations: Lu Qian’s sense of security increased by 3.】

Xue Yao: “……”

This chubby cub must have been eavesdropping on him from behind the door!

The palace maid’s face turned cold. “His Highness is busy right now. If Second Young Master Xue doesn’t wish to follow the rules, you can wait for Consort Xi to return and ask again. This servant doesn’t have the courage to let you in. Who can bear the consequences of angering His Highness?”

The young prince had finally managed to break his dependence on Xue Yao. The palace maid secretly hoped that Xue Yao wouldn’t see the prince even if he returned to the palace.

It was time to replace this favored one.

Xue Yao was very much aware of the situation, as the recent system notification had exposed the true reason behind the chubby cub’s tantrum.

Obviously, the Seventh Prince was hoping that Xue Yao would show weakness and beg to see him. His Highness would not be angered because of this.

Thus, Xue Yao continued to wear a bold face and whined, “But I just wish to see His Highness!”

​【Lu Qian’s sense of security +1.】​

When Xue Yao heard this notification, his heart practically bloomed with joy. He immediately raised his voice, playing the stubborn card, “I must see His Highness! I cannot wait a moment longer! Let me in, please! Let me in!”

With the incessant increase in the sense of security ringing in his mind, Xue Yao smirked and, with determination, pushed ahead, intent on breaching the side hall.

Several palace maids and eunuchs rushed forward to block his path.

“Young Master Xue! His Highness has made it clear he won’t see any visitors! Are you out of your mind? Young Master Xue!”

Just at that moment, behind the eunuch, the grand doors of the side hall were slowly opened by the eunuchs from inside.

The Seventh Prince’s calm and languid voice followed promptly from behind the door, “Too noisy.”

Upon hearing this, the group of servants quickly turned and paid their respects.

Ignoring etiquette, Xue Yao swiftly bypassed the eunuchs and palace maids, his eyes widening as he beheld the chubby cub he hadn’t seen in two months!

A warm, tender feeling unexpectedly surged in his heart. “Has Your Highness lost some weight? Did you grow taller again?”

Xue Yao walked over and gestured at the chubby cub’s head.

The Seventh Prince, however, didn’t take the bait. He took a leisurely step back, creating some distance between him and the “heartless reader-in-waiting.” Leaning indifferently against the door frame, he lifted his chin in a retaliatory manner. “Your Highness is busy with significant matters and and doesn’t have time to accompany Yaoyao.”

Xue Yao couldn’t help but chuckle.

He had used the same excuse of “significant matters” to abandon him, so now the chubby cub retaliated in kind. It was clear he held a grudge!

Of course, the truth couldn’t be revealed. The chubby cub was growing up and starting to care about his image.

Xue Yao grinned mischievously as he bounced over to the door and stood in front of the Seventh Prince, playing the stubborn card. “After Your Highness is done with your significant matters, can you spare some time for me? You focus on your tasks, and I’ll just watch from the side, alright?”

​【Lu Qian’s sense of security +1.】​

The Seventh Prince snorted coldly and turned away. “Your grandpa doesn’t need that.”

“Pfft…” Xue Yao quickly covered his mouth.

The system has betrayed you, Your Highness! Stop pretending!

“What are you laughing at?” The Seventh Prince’s gaze turned icy and fierce as he stared at the heartless reader-in-waiting.

“It’s nothing, just seeing Your Highness makes me happy. My heart is racing as if on wings. I came straight to find you upon entering the palace.”

“Hmph.” The Seventh Prince turned away, coldly piercing through the heartless reader-in-waiting’s falsehood, “You first went to Sixth Brother, then visited Eldest Brother’s hall, and made your rounds through half the harem.”

The Seventh Prince suddenly turned to fix his eyes on Xue Yao. “You finally remembered your grandpa?”

Xue Yao gasped for a breath of cool air. “Your Highness… how did you know I went to Crown Prince’s hall?”

This Seventh Prince paused, his shallow pupils shifting, then he pointed to the group of eunuchs. “They told me.”

The eunuchs: “……”

What? We never left the grand hall. How would we know where His Highness’ reader-in-waiting went?

Alright, whatever His Highness says goes!

Xue Yao turned to look at the group of eunuchs, feeling somewhat surprised.

He had been dashing to and fro, not expecting these eunuchs to quietly follow him the whole way, and to report back to the Seventh Prince before he arrived at Qingqiong Hall.

These eunuchs were like genuine invisible beings!

How did they manage it?

“I went to the Sixth Prince’s palace to check on the rabbit Your Highness gifted me,” Xue Yao thought of an excuse on the spur of the moment.

“Rabbit?” The Seventh Prince squinted, his head tilting slightly in puzzlement. He glanced at the rabbit in the small wooden cage in the side hall, munching on some grass.

This silly white rabbit had been retrieved by His Highness from the Imperial Kitchen’s rabbit pen long ago. How could it be in Sixth Brother’s hall?

“Yes! The little white rabbit Your Highness gave me!” Xue Yao, unaware of the situation, enthusiastically continued, “I really adore that rabbit! These days away from the capital, I’ve been worried about it…”

“Stir-fried with green peppers?” the Seventh Prince cut in.

“How could that be!” Xue Yao vehemently denied, “I never thought of eating the rabbit Your Highness personally gave me! That rabbit and I get along really well. It hasn’t seen me in two months, and as soon as it sees me, it gets so excited that it doesn’t even eat its grass. It keeps jumping around!”

“Scared, perhaps?” 

“No! It genuinely likes me!” Xue Yao adamantly refused to admit the true nature of his relationship with the rabbit. “Just a while ago, I even brushed its fur. It was so well-behaved and affectionate towards me.”

The Seventh Prince squinted. “Is that so?”

“Of course!” Xue Yao wore a loving expression. “I’ll definitely take good care of it, find a male rabbit for it, and let it have a litter of little baby rabbits.”

The Seventh Prince remained silent for a moment and then whispered, “It’s a male.”

“Ah?” Meeting His Highness’ disappointed eyes, Xue Yao was about to admit his mistake and console the chubby cub when a eunuch’s voice rang from outside the courtyard.

“Young Master Xue, the Crown Prince requests your presence to receive your reward!”

Xue Yao turned to the door, “Now?”

The eunuch replied, “Her Highness the Empress has already learned of your meritorious service and urgently wishes to meet the great contributor to the grain supply.”

So, the Empress had gone to see her son in the Crown Prince’s hall.

Xue Yao hadn’t finished consoling the chubby cub yet. His expression was one of dilemma.

The Seventh Prince wasn’t a reasonable chubby cub. Upon hearing that the Crown Prince intended to take away Silly Yaoyao, his face immediately darkened as he emitted a threatening growl towards Xue Yao.

Xue Yao appeared desperate but couldn’t keep the Empress waiting for long. He had no choice but to clasp his hands together and apologize to the Seventh Prince, “I’ll be back very soon!”

Without waiting for the Seventh Prince to flatten milk carton, cakes or anything else, he hastily left Qingqiong Hall with the eunuch.

​【Lu Qian’s sense of security -7.】

Ugh, all his efforts to console him had been in vain. Xue Yao felt like crying!

Crown Prince’s hall.

The eunuchs led Xue Yao into the main hall. Inside, there were quite a few palace maids, all of them quiet and disciplined, better trained than those in other concubines’ residences.

The Empress was an exceedingly serious and rule-abiding person.

Because of the improper colors of her attire, the Empress had disciplined even Consort Xi, who was most favored. And due to her inadequate child-rearing, she had disciplined Consort Tong, who was the most influential. Naturally, the other consorts and concubines had also received various punishments for not adhering to the rules.

Within the palace, the consorts and concubines often taunted the Empress for failing to gain the Emperor’s favor, so she had to rely on tormenting other consorts and concubines to assert her status.

Xue Yao had seen the Empress before but had never spoken to her.

Because Consort Xi didn’t like the Empress, his impression of her was less than favorable. She came across as a rigid, highborn lady.

At this moment, the Empress was seated in the grandmaster’s chair at the north end of the grand hall. She watched as Xue Yao, escorted by the eunuchs, approached. Without waiting for him to bow, she gestured for him to rise and take a seat for their conversation.

The Crown Prince sat to the Empress’ right, his expression devoid of emotion, as he observed Xue Yao.

Even before his Mother Empress, the Crown Prince was nervous.

The Crown Princess stood upright by the Empress’ side, ever watchful of her mother-in-law’s demeanor, ready to serve tea and water, resembling an untrained palace maid.

This atmosphere made Xue Yao feel somewhat constrained.

The Crown Princess seldom made appearances in the palace, maintaining a very low profile, perhaps to avoid making mistakes that would displease the Empress.

The strained relationship between the Empress and Crown Princess served as a long-standing piece of palace gossip.

The Crown Princess, at twenty years old, hailed from a ducal family, with both her appearance and demeanor leaving little room for criticism. Her statuesque figure was only half a head shorter than the Crown Prince, and among a group of palace maids, she stood out significantly.

Her countenance exuded dignity, yet it also possessed a rare touch of allure that should have appealed to men.

She had been married to the Crown Prince for three years, experienced two miscarriages, and had yet to bear a son or a daughter, which left the Empress dissatisfied.

Xue Yao was unsure about the depth of the bond between the Crown Prince and his consort, but he knew that the Crown Prince had refrained from taking a secondary consort for three years in order to have his primary consort bear the eldest son, which only added to the Empress’ discontent as she yearned for a grandson.

“Truly, heroes emerge in the youth.” The Empress appraised Xue Yao’s youthful face. “Jinan just mentioned you as a brilliant youth not yet eighteen. I couldn’t believe such sagacity could be found in someone so young. But now that I’ve met you, I’m even more incredulous.”

Xue Yao promptly rose and modestly shifted the credit onto the Crown Prince.

The Empress’ face grew increasingly approving. She then announced the rewards, which amounted to a thousand taels of silver, along with a hundred rolls of silk.

This reward was extraordinarily generous.

Xue Yao was taken aback and hastily claimed he couldn’t accept such a lavish gift.

The Empress insisted on bestowing the rewards and then expressed curiosity about Xue Yao’s observations and experiences in Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

The Crown Prince immediately ordered the artisans’ handcrafted items bought in Jinling and Hangzhou to be brought into the hall. He presented them to his Mother Empress for her enjoyment and asked her to pick the items she liked, while the others were to be distributed to the various palace ladies.

The Empress hadn’t been to Jiangsu and Zhejiang for many years, so she was quite curious. She received the small items handed over by palace maids, examining each one with fascination and lavishing them with praise.

Seeing that Mother Empress was enjoying herself, the Crown Prince gently walked to the right side of the luggage chest, bent down, and retrieved an exquisitely crafted hairpin with floral designs from a hidden compartment. He approached his wife and placed it in front of her without saying a word.

The Crown Princess noticed the hairpin adorned with ceramic-made miniature osmanthus flowers, and a hint of surprise crossed her face. She looked up at the Crown Prince, and in that brief moment, her formerly dignified and reserved countenance revealed a myriad of emotions, yet she remained silent in gratitude.

The young couple exchanged no words but shared a silent exchange of glances. Nevertheless, the Empress, with her keen perception, caught the subtlety.

“What precious hairpins you’ve hidden away in the hidden compartment, may I have the pleasure of seeing them?” 

The coquetry on the Crown Princess’ face immediately transformed into a flustered reticence. She hastily cradled the hairpin and offered it to the Empress.

The Empress picked up the hairpin and examined it. She smiled lightly at the Crown Princess, neither cold nor warm. “Isn’t osmanthus flower your favorite? The Crown Prince really has put thought into it. Over a decade ago, this palace also received water lily flowers handpicked by him.”

This statement was a veiled reference to the Crown Prince, implying that he had “forgotten his mother” upon having a wife. The unique hairpin, designed solely for the Crown Princess, was prepared by him.

However, when men purchase jewelry, it was often intended for their wives and concubines.

The Empress liked water lilies, and she should have taken this gesture from the Emperor as a sign of his affection. There was no reason to constantly focus on her son and daughter-in-law.

Blame it on the Emperor for focusing all his attention on Consort Xi.

The Empress may not be in her prime, but it didn’t mean that the feminine part of her heart had disappeared.

Loneliness and grievances, unspoken, gradually transformed into a bitter tang in the Empress’ heart, making her even resent her son’s favoritism towards his wife.

In her eyes, a proper wife should focus on managing the household and raising the children. She should graciously tolerate her husband’s affection for his concubines.

Where could one find a truly faithful man?

Why should her daughter-in-law, who couldn’t bear a child, enjoy her son’s exclusive favor?

Jinan seemed nothing like the Emperor’s offspring!

The Empress handed the hairpin back to the Crown Princess and spoke with feigned affection, “This time, Jinan has narrowly escaped danger, thanks to the blessings of the Bodhisattva. Tonight, you should go to the temple and copy a couple of scriptures as a heartfelt expression of gratitude.”

The Crown Prince raised an imperceptible eyebrow.

The Crown Princess immediately nodded in acceptance.

The Empress displayed a contented and tranquil expression, thinking she had spoiled the good fortune of her daughter-in-law.

Let the Crown Princesss, who had worried about her husband for two months, spend a night alone in her chamber.

The youthful and energetic Crown Prince couldn’t endure such torment. If he could pamper one or two maids, it would be only fair.

The Empress had her own plans, but little did she know that Jinan’s initial affection for his wife was a result of Mother Empress’s meddling.

When the Crown Princess married him, she had just turned seventeen, with a fragile and slender physique. The imperial physicians had repeatedly advised her to rest for a year to regain her health. However, driven by the Empress’ eagerness to have a grandchild, within the first year of their marriage, she suffered two miscarriages.

The Crown Prince had initially been preoccupied with state affairs, disinterested in romantic affairs. Yet, he was gradually won over by the unfortunate young lady and began to feel a sense of responsibility as a husband.

Xue Yao observed the subtle tension within this family of three and couldn’t help but be amazed.

In the novel, the Crown Princess scarcely appeared a few times, let alone any descriptions of her having an affectionate relationship with the Crown Prince.

The few instances when the Crown Princess did appear were mostly after the Crown Prince had been deposed. At that time, the Third Prince ascended to the throne, Consort Tong was titled as the Empress Dowager, and the Empress was sent to the cold palace.

The Crown Princess refused to believe that the Crown Prince had died in battle and continued to care for her mother-in-law in the cold palace.

Later, Prince Ning rebelled and seized the throne, giving the deposed Crown Prince a proper burial.

On the day of the tomb’s relocation, the Crown Princess, somehow finding the strength, managed to break through heavy guards. She rushed to the coffin of the deposed Crown Prince and, with ecstatic joy, softly whispered, “Your Highness has returned. This consort knew you wouldn’t break your promise.”

After saying this, she slowly collapsed beside the coffin, relying on its structure, and astonishingly, she took poison to end her life.

While reading the novel, Xue Yao had little impression of this consort of the deposed Crown Prince, as there was insufficient context provided. Ancient women’s unwarranted devotion often seemed inexplicable.

But now, immersed in the story, he could sense the restrained admiration and love of the Crown Princess, even from a distance, as she couldn’t hide her affection for the Crown Prince in the slightest.

It appeared that her ultimate act of sacrifice was not a random occurrence.

However, in the Crown Prince’s eyes, one could hardly discern infatuation and admiration. His gaze seemed more like one of pity.

Alas, the Crown Prince and the Sixth Prince were both affectionate and caring masters, so why was it that the Seventh Prince…

Xue Yao despaired as he thought about the Seventh Prince’s likely furious reaction when he returned from this trip, not yet aware of the kind of Long Aotian-level wrath he would have to face!

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