The Tyrant’s Cannon Fodder Male Empress Chapter 73

Chapter 73

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The following day, Xue Yao and the young princes, acting as bystanders, accompanied Fourth Zhang to Zhongcui Palace.

Consort Hui was gathered with palace maids and eunuchs, engaging in a game of chance. The rules involved shooting arrows at a designated fig tree in the courtyard from fifty paces away, aiming for accuracy.

When the eunuch reported the arrival of the young princes, Consort Hui, busy aiming at the fig tree, was in no hurry to receive them. She instructed the eunuch to arrange refreshments for the princes.

After a while, the eunuch returned, reporting to Consort Hui that the newly appointed eunuch, Fourth Zhang, was waiting to pay respects to her.

Consort Hui furrowed her brows slightly, making her peak-shaped eyebrows even more pronounced.

Her youthful, attractive features clashed with these unadorned straight eyebrows, creating a somewhat discordant look.

As she neared her forties, her innocent features matured into a refined allure. Paired with these eyebrows, she exuded a rare feeling of dignity among the palace women.

Upon hearing the name “Fourth Zhang,” her arm, taut from drawing the bowstring, suddenly quivered, nearly causing her arrow to miss its mark, but she quickly steadied herself.

Consort Hui relaxed the bowstring. She shook her sore arm, took a deep breath, and, with an expressionless face, continued to aim her bow at the fig tree, responding indifferently, “What’s so special about a new servant? Assign him some tasks.”

After the eunuch conveyed the Consort’s message, Xue Yao felt deeply disappointed.

Fourth Zhang, standing nearby, also displayed visible disappointment.

The Sixth Prince said to the Fifth Prince, “Big Brother, why don’t you go and ask your Mother Consort to meet with Master Zhang?”

The Fifth Prince, who had a deep respect for his strict mother, shrugged. “If she doesn’t want to, my words won’t change her mind.”

“Then let’s wait here for a while,” the Sixth Prince suggested, “Consort Hui will surely come to see us after she finishes her archery practice.”

Xue Yao boldly proposed, “Instead of idling around, why don’t we ask Old Zhang to take us to the courtyard for some martial arts practice?”

It was a clever idea, a way for Fourth Zhang to coincidentally cross paths with Consort Hui in the courtyard.

So, the scheming princes set out with Fourth Zhang.

Consort Hui was currently sitting at a stone table beneath a tree, sipping tea, when she suddenly saw a few mischievous young princes accompanied by a man entering the courtyard.

Consort Hui’s hand trembled as she hastily lowered her head.

The Fifth Prince mustered his courage and greeted Mother Consort, explaining that they had brought Old Zhang to the courtyard to teach the younger princes some basic martial arts.

“Where have all the royal instructors gone? Why do eunuchs have to train the princes some martial arts?” Consort Hui grumbled, setting her teacup aside.

The Fifth Prince seized the opportunity, gestured for Fourth Zhang to join him, and introduced him to Mother Consort, “Fourth Zhang is no ordinary eunuch. He possesses remarkable skills, and even second-ranking guards can’t match him.”

Consort Hui, with lowered eyes, intentionally avoided the somewhat foolish gaze of Fourth Zhang and responded with a disdainful cold laugh.

It was the first time the eunuch had met his new mistress. He knelt before her, offering his respects.

After entering the palace, Fourth Zhang had knelt and paid his respects to three masters, from Noble Ladies to the Crown Prince. This was the protocol he knew. However, this time, he didn’t kneel and bow to Consort Hui. He only gave a slight bow and said, “Fourth Zhang pays respects to Your Highness.”

“Oh, it’s you,” Consort Hui seemed to recognize the voice of someone familiar. She slowly raised her eyebrows, and her gaze toward Fourth Zhang was filled with resentment.

It was an unusual kind of resentment, as if she resented Fourth Zhang for persistently coming to the palace to see her and for witnessing the pitiful state of the lonely concubine who hadn’t seen her husband in several months.

Most women didn’t want their former admirers to witness their decline, especially those who had known them in their prime.

That perfection from the past was enough.

After that, they only wanted to hide their withering.

Blame it on this old man for being so insensitive, still not understanding her, insisting on seeing her in her aged and faded state.

But she might not understand men either.

In Fourth Zhang’s eyes, under the tree, Consort Hui was still the third young miss of the General’s mansion from twenty years ago, unchanged.

“Your Highness, do you still remember me?” Fourth Zhang stared at Consort Hui with a simple, foolish look.

“Seeing you brings back memories.” Consort Hui lowered her head, playing with the handkerchief in her hand, appearing indifferent. “Thanks to you, you saved me and my mother. You stayed at our mansion as a servant for several years, didn’t you?”

“Yes, yes.” Fourth Zhang smiled, revealing a set of gleaming white teeth. He bowed and kneeled with humility, gradually letting go of his previous demeanor.

He couldn’t bear to take his eyes off her for a moment. “Your Highness, how have you been all these years?”

“Of course, I’ve been well, getting whatever I want,” Consort Hui replied casually, then turned to the three young princes who were eagerly watching. “This courtyard is small. If you princes want to practice martial arts, go to the adjacent garden. There’s more space there.”

The princes and Xue Yao all wore disappointed expressions.

Consort Hui really didn’t remember Fourth Zhang.

Poor, mysterious master.

Since Her Highness personally issued the order for the guest to leave, the young princes couldn’t linger to watch anymore. They had no choice but to go outside to train.

Fourth Zhang naturally had to follow them, but he had many things left unsaid. He took one step and glanced back, moving slowly, like a snail in the courtyard.

After a while, the young princes left, and Fourth Zhang looked back. Consort Hui still had her head down, showing no urgency to send him away.

Fourth Zhang, thick-skinned, turned around to strike up a conversation with Consort Hui, “Your Highness, this palace isn’t as comfortable as your own residence. You…”

“Of course, I’m not accustomed to it!” Consort Hui suddenly lifted her eyes and glared at him, suppressing her trembling voice. “Can’t you see how I’m doing? Why ask?”

The surrounding eunuchs and palace maids were startled.

Fourth Zhang was also taken aback, not expecting Consort Hui’s sudden change in demeanor.

“All of you, leave,” Consort Hui ordered the others to step back.

Only she and the tactless old man remained in the courtyard.

Consort Hui stared at Fourth Zhang with reddened eyes, as if the years of neglect she had endured were all his fault.

Fourth Zhang didn’t feel aggrieved. On the contrary, he felt relieved.

After all these years, she was still the same third young miss from the General’s mansion, prone to throwing tantrums only with those she was familiar with and dependent on. Nothing had changed.

Fourth Zhang smiled at Consort Hui, walked to the fig tree, pulled out the crooked arrows, and examined them closely. He then turned to Consort Hui and said, “These feathers are no good. Next time, I’ll order two barrels from the workshop for my lady to use more comfortably.”

Consort Hui turned her head away, ignoring him.

Fourth Zhang noticed that she had tucked her skirt into her belt. Instinctively, just like many years ago, he reminded her, “Young ladies shouldn’t tuck their skirts like that…”

“What’s it to you?” Consort Hui turned and glared at him. “Can a eunuch manage an imperial consort?”

“Oh…” Fourth Zhang lowered his head and smiled. “I almost forgot. Well, then, I’ll go attend to the princes.”

“Wait.” Consort Hui suddenly became anxious.

As if a person who didn’t want to hastily end their reunion had transformed into her.

Fourth Zhang nodded. “Your Highness, what are your orders?”

“I won’t let you stay in Zhongcui Palace.” Consort Hui looked at him. “No matter what tricks you try to play to get in, I’ll have you transferred elsewhere! If you’re sensible, you’ll leave the palace immediately. With your skills, entering and leaving won’t be difficult.”

Fourth Zhang looked up at her. “I just want to be by Your Highness’ side for support.”

“I don’t need your support.” Consort Hui stared at him coldly. “Isn’t this place enough to confine me and my son? What’s so appealing about this place that you’re so eager to get in? I command you to leave the palace immediately, get married, have children, and live a decent life. Don’t disturb me anymore.”

Fourth Zhang smiled. “I’m already in the palace, how can I get married and have children?”

“Don’t play coy with me! Do you think you still need to behave and go through the motions to sneak into the palace? You didn’t… did you?”

Fourth Zhang continued to smile faintly at her without giving an answer.


The princes and Xue Yao were all very disappointed with Fourth Zhang.

They had initially assumed this mysterious master had an incredible and poignant history with Consort Hui, but it turned out that she didn’t even recognize him.

This could be considered the peak of self-delusion!

“Consort Hui mentioned that you saved her and her mother.” Seizing the only gossip-worthy detail, Xue Yao latched onto it and took the opportunity to interview Fourth Zhang. “Were you a great hero in the past? How did the General’s mansion come across danger?”

Fourth Zhang, however, didn’t explain this and just chuckled foolishly, evading the question every time.

It was as if he harbored a precious secret past deep in his heart, one that no one was allowed to see.

Fourth Zhang truly was a mysterious master with no story and no secrets to uncover.

Yet he was an adept teacher, and in less than five months, the Fifth Prince could now hold his own against the training instructors on the training grounds.

Oddly, the Sixth Prince showed little progress.

Fourth Zhang only requested that the Sixth Prince practice the fundamentals of tai chi and the baguazhang circle-walking and palm-pushing exercises.

Xue Yao found it difficult to understand this type of palm technique, which appeared to be in slow motion. Facing the Sixth Prince in a martial arts competition, standing still for quite a while was needed just to get close enough to strike. Could this defeat the opponent?

There was even a time when Xue Yao suspected that Fourth Zhang had given up on martial arts and was teaching something like “Square Dance Tai Chi” to the Sixth Prince.

However, remarkably, practicing the same basic tai chi exercises, the chubby cub also managed to learn them. A few months later, he could use these fundamental palm techniques to force the training instructors to match his speed, ultimately flipping them over with ease!

One could imagine that the warm baby, witnessing this scene, was utterly baffled.

With the same principles and basics, after five months of training, the Sixth Prince fought like he was performing “senior citizen’s fitness exercises,” while the Seventh Prince fought like the “chibi version of Zhang Sanfeng.”

Even Xue Yao felt concerned for the warm baby.

To this, Zhang Goudan consoled the Sixth Prince, “Your Highness, you can’t compare yourself to children with innate constipation. At this stage of training, it’s about strengthening your body and establishing a solid foundation. Weapons like the Mandarin Duck Axes require a foundational understanding of the techniques. It can’t be rushed.”

The Sixth Prince was quite dissatisfied. “Can I at least compete with Fifth Brother? But this basic training isn’t even suitable for sparring!”

Fourth Zhang explained earnestly, “This is how soft-style martial arts work, Your Highness. Tai chi and baguazhang basics focus on the static part of martial arts. The performance at various levels of martial arts and the use of weapons are completely different and can’t be compared. But once you’ve mastered this, you can effectively counter all long weapons. Patience is crucial.”

The Sixth Prince turned to look at his chubby younger brother, who was nursing a pot of milk in the distance, and found the explanation less convincing. “Then why can Seventh Brother defeat the instructors?”

Fourth Zhang, with an earnest expression, said, “I can’t explain that either. I’ve only heard of children with this kind of constitution in martial arts legends. Upon witnessing it firsthand, it’s really inexplicable. Your Highness, you mustn’t compare yourself to such unique children.”

After feeding a pot of milk, Xue Yao pinched the chubby cheeks of His Highness, feeling as if His Highness had become a bit slimmer again.

Fourth Zhang wasn’t deceiving anyone. The chubby cub would turn thirteen next month, and he was already as tall as Xue Yao’s nose, so he would likely soon transform into a slender Long Aotian!

“Your Highness, where would you like to go for your birthday next month?” Xue Yao asked the chubby cub.

Princes had the opportunity to leave the palace for a few days on their birthdays, with no schoolwork to worry about.

Lately, the martial arts training had been quite strenuous. Xue Yao intended to enjoy some quality time with the Seventh Prince.

“Fifth Brother mentioned there’s going to be a lion dance and silk brocade competition on Changxuan Street. Sounds interesting. Your grandpa wants to go and watch the competition from the top floor room at Tingyu Pavilion.”

“No problem,” Xue Yao said with a smile, “Your Highness can stay in the top floor room with your Fifth Brother, and you can watch the lion dance together.”

“With Yaoyao.”

“The top floor of Tingyu Pavilion only has one room that directly faces the competition,” Xue Yao reassured him, “The Fifth Prince also wants to stay in that room. We can have your Fifth Brother join Your Highness in the evening, and during the day, I’ll be there to keep you company, too.”

“Not Fifth Brother,” the Seventh Prince objected.

“Why not?”

“Fifth Brother sweats a lot.”

“Not at all!”

Speak of the devil, and he shall appear. Just after completing his training with the lance, the Fifth Prince walked over, drenched in sweat.

Bending down, the Fifth Prince took the handkerchief from the Seventh Prince’s hand, wiped his forehead and neck in a hurry, then casually tossed it back to his younger brother. Afterward, he sat comfortably between the two of them, turned to Xue Yao, and said, “What Fourth Zhang said is true. This lance is getting more and more comfortable to use.”

Xue Yao nodded, but his attention was drawn to the mischievous grin on the face of the Seventh Prince, who was standing behind the Fifth Prince.

Seeing Xue Yao gazing at him with an innocent look, the Seventh Prince immediately lifted the handkerchief that the Fifth Prince had just used, brought it close to his nose, and then shuddered dramatically. He clutched his throat, silently reaching out to Xue Yao for help, all while remaining behind the Fifth Prince.

The chubby cub, looking utterly hopeless, finally rolled his eyes and fell onto the table, pretending that he had been overwhelmed by the scent of the Fifth Prince’s sweat.

This tragic tale was meant to educate the innocent Yaoyao: sharing a room with Fifth Brother would be suffocating.

Oblivious to his brother’s wicked slander, the Fifth Prince continued to discuss his recent martial arts insights with Xue Yao.

Xue Yao, however, had been provoked by that darn chubby kid to the point of suppressing his laughter, making his face turn red.

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