The Tyrant’s Cannon Fodder Male Empress Chapter 74

Chapter 74

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The Fifth Prince finished sharing his insights with Xue Yao, then turned to check if the Seventh Prince had gained any valuable experience from it. To his surprise, the chubby younger brother was slumped over the table, his spirit utterly broken.

“What’s wrong with Old Seventh? You’ve been sitting here resting for so long, why do you still look so tired?”

The Seventh Prince, who was playing dead, suddenly sat up and looked dispassionately at his fifth brother. “Next month, when watching the lion dance, Big Brother shall stay in a guest room by himself.”

“I’ll stay with you,” the Fifth Prince said nonchalantly as he lifted a glass of iced tea. “Eldest Brother asked me to look after you.”

“Don’t stay together,” the Seventh Prince said without considering brotherly bonds at all.

The Fifth Prince put down his teacup and asked with curiosity, “Why?”

“Because you snore,” the Seventh Prince replied with a resentful expression.

“Aiya! Has Old Seventh grown up and become disdainful of his big brother?” The Fifth Prince slapped the table and continued, “Remember when we first went to school, who clung to the legs of Fifth Brother, demanding to sleep alongside?”

The Seventh Prince pretended not to remember and asked solemnly, “Wasn’t it the Sixth Prince?”

“It was you!” The Fifth Prince raised an eyebrow and eagerly gestured. “You insisted on using my arm as a pillow and even clung to my collar, not allowing me to turn. You slept so soundly! Why didn’t you mind my snoring back then?”

The Seventh Prince tilted his head, pointing to his left ear, and explained, “This ear might have already gone deaf due to Big Brother’s snoring. Now, your grandpa only has one left. It’s too risky to sleep with him.”

“You ungrateful little scoundrel!” The Fifth Prince raised his arm as if to scold the chubby cub, but was stopped by Xue Yao, who was fiercely protective.

Eventually, they compromised. The Fifth Prince and the Sixth Prince occupied the guest rooms they had booked, while Xue Yao and the chubby cub stayed in the adjacent room.

Two days later, one of the Crown Prince’s attendants arrived at the school and requested Xue Yao’s presence at the Crown Prince’s hall for a conversation.

Xue Yao had an uneasy feeling as he entered the hall. As expected, he saw the Crown Prince pacing with a furrowed brow.

“Your Highness,” Xue Yao approached and paid his respects.

The Crown Prince turned his head and slowly faced Xue Yao. “Xue Yao, you truly have a gift.”

Upon hearing these words, Xue Yao suspected that something had gone wrong in Pingrong County.

However, he couldn’t directly reveal it. He had to wait for the Crown Prince to bring it up.

Xue Yao possessed the gift of foresight, which could either be seen as a result of his uncanny insight or, in some people’s eyes, as dark sorcery. The latter could easily attract trouble and calamity.

He needed to keep his abilities within the realm of intellect and strategy to ensure his safety.

The Crown Prince disliked beating around the bush. “Pingrong County has indeed been hit by a plague. About half a year ago, following your advice, we dispatched seven renowned physicians to the area. Just received urgent intelligence, two of the physicians have been infected by a peculiar local disease and are on the brink of death. Most of the other physicians refuse to continue treating patients and are insisting on leaving the afflicted county. Only one physician remains to care for the sick.”

Xue Yao nodded. “On that particular day when I was visiting friends and relatives, I happened to encounter a patient. The person’s complexion was ghastly, occasionally accompanied by black blood oozing from the mouth and nose. It’s truly a terrifying sight.”

The Crown Prince nodded in acknowledgment. “Thanks to your warning, I made preparations in advance. If the new reform were implemented and the county suffered mass deaths or migrations of farmers, it could have been exploited by malicious individuals, and the consequences would have been unthinkable.”

Xue Yao contemplated for a moment and replied, “Reporting the epidemic to the Emperor might prevent unscrupulous individuals from blaming the deaths on the new reform.”

“That may not be possible.” The Crown Prince frowned. “The new reform is meant to challenge the local nobility and gentry, preventing them from profiteering, usury, and land consolidation. Many eyes are fixed on the three pilot counties. If rumors of a widespread plague break out, they will seize the opportunity to claim, ‘The new reform defies the Heaven’s Will and bring disaster to the people.’ In that case, the epidemic will continue unchecked, the new reform will be abolished, and the people will face endless suffering.”

Xue Yao opened his mouth to speak but hesitated.

In truth, he wanted to delicately hint to the Crown Prince that they could implement the new reform after he ascended to the throne, but it was a difficult message to convey.

Because the Crown Prince was unaware that the Emperor would abdicate in a few years.

Given the Emperor’s current state of health, living until the age of eighty was not out of the question.

The royal men of Great Qi were in their prime, blessed with robust health. The former Emperor voluntarily abdicated after celebrating his seventieth birthday. If the current Emperor hadn’t acted recklessly, he could have reigned for several more decades.

Therefore, in the Crown Prince’s view, it was too early for him to become Emperor. At this moment, Xue Yao had no reason to advise him to be patient.

“Right now, we can only dispatch renowned physicians to provide relief.” Xue Yao had been prepared for this plague.

Although he hadn’t devoured all the medical books, he had read records of several historical plagues from various regions in Asia and Europe.

He couldn’t cure the disease, but he had transcribed the treatment formulas.

However, the symptoms of the plague in Pingrong County didn’t entirely match those recorded in the books. The formulas might not be fully applicable.

Even though he lacked specific formulas for this plague, Xue Yao suspected it was a variant of plagues documented in history. Physicians might find inspiration from these formulas.

Even in ancient times, one couldn’t use living people as guinea pigs casually. A tailored approach was necessary.

“Your Highness.” After making his decision, Xue Yao immediately bowed and asked, “May I request to accompany the physicians to Pingrong County next month, after celebrating the Seventh Prince’s birthday, to provide urgent assistance?”

The Crown Prince waved his hand with a gentle smile. “There’s no need. First, this plague is extremely fierce and unpredictable. Second, you’re not skilled in medicine. There’s no need to take such risks.”

Xue Yao replied, “I have some knowledge of medicine…”

“Having some knowledge of medicine won’t be of any use. Even those who are experts in medicine have fallen. Why risk it? I didn’t summon you to cure the afflicted but rather to hear your predictions about the situation. To be honest, I truly admire your uncanny ability to foresee things.”

Xue Yao: “……”

Seeing his perplexed expression, the Crown Prince continued, “You won’t have any immediate answers right now. Don’t worry, take your time to think about it when you return.”

Xue Yao nodded. “Your Highness, I still wish to accompany the physicians to assist the patients in Pingrong County.”

The Crown Prince furrowed his brow. “I understand your intentions, but there’s really no need to take this risk.” He turned his head towards his desk and raised his chin, indicating Xue Yao to take a look. “This is an urgent report from Pingrong County. Once you read it, you’ll understand.”

Xue Yao obeyed and walked over, unfolding the letter.

The letter not only mentioned the grave illness of the two physicians but also contained descriptions of some alarming symptoms of the plague.

Although the ancient letters were written in concise classical Chinese, Xue Yao could still sense the dire situation in the region.

The letter even documented the folklore rumor of “spreading plague through eye contact.”

Meaning that regular people could contract this dreadful plague by merely making eye contact with the infected.

Xue Yao, of course, didn’t believe in such a method of transmission.

However, such rumors implied a highly contagious nature of the plague. He had been prepared earlier, refreshing a type of【Medical-Grade High-Performance Breathable Fabric】in the system’s shop, suitable for crafting protective suits.

Most of the plague treatment formulas recorded in books required the extraction of convalescent patients’ plasma, utilizing immunoglobulins and antibiotics for injection therapy.

This innovative treatment method would be challenging to explain to the Crown Prince or the ancient physicians.

Voicing it might lead to accusations of madness, so he had to handle it himself.

Additionally, several antibiotic drugs in the formulas were acquired from the system’s Herbal Store in recent years, but they were only sufficient for about a hundred people.

If the epidemic were to spread further, the quantity of medicines at his disposal wouldn’t be enough.

According to the urgent report from Pingrong County, over seventy peasants had already been infected. There was no time to waste.

Thus, he persisted in requesting to accompany the physicians to Pingrong County.

The Crown Prince believed that his presence wouldn’t be of much help and was too dangerous, so he initially refused.

Xue Yao leveraged his accomplishments in procuring provisions and touted his capabilities, stubbornly insisting on going.

The Crown Prince couldn’t resist and could only negotiate terms with him: he must not have direct contact with the patients.

“Xue Yao, you are truly an enigma,” the Crown Prince said to him. “All my younger brothers greatly rely on you. I’ve always thought you possessed a subtle charm for ingratiating with those in power, as evidenced by your success in gathering provisions. I believed you had ambitions in the court, yet you declined my invitations. I also thought you were well-versed in the teachings of Huang-Lao, knowing when to advance and when to retreat wisely. But now, you’re risking your life for a mission. What are you really thinking?”

Xue Yao: “……”

He never expected that the Crown Prince held such an elevated image of him!

As for the so-called teachings of Huang-Lao, he had never even heard of them!

The young princes relied on him because he had fed them with his delicious concoctions and introduced them to novel treats since they were little.

Procuring provisions was to protect the Crown Prince and ensure the chubby cub’s backing remained steady.

His avoidance of official careers stemmed from anticipating political turmoil in the future. Picking sides would only put his own safety at risk.

Taking charge of controlling the epidemic was still for the protection of the Crown Prince, and incidentally, to fulfill the system’s quest.

Xue Yao’s thoughts were genuinely that straightforward.

But from the Crown Prince’s perspective, it did indeed seem rather enigmatic.

With no way to explain, Xue Yao could only offer a weathered and mysteriously wry smile.

“……” The Crown Prince’s admiration in his gaze for Xue Yao grew even stronger.

After obtaining approval from the Crown Prince, Xue Yao faced an even greater challenge – the chubby cub refused to let him “go out to work.”

The last time his sense of security dropped during the trip to Jiangsu and Zhejiang, it took three months to regain a hundred points. He couldn’t fathom how much he might lose this time.

Xue Yao discussed with the Crown Prince that they couldn’t tell the younger princes about his risky venture to the plague-inflicted county. They would only mention that he was going to his hometown for a family visit.

However, this reasonable excuse could only be used to say goodbye to the warm baby.

For the chubby cub, it still felt like being “cruelly abandoned.”

In the evening, in a side chamber of Qingqiong Hall, Xue Yao had dinner with Consort Xi and the Seventh Prince.

Faced with the chubby cub’s watchful gaze, Xue Yao felt increasingly guilty.

It was as if he hadn’t even begun to speak, and the chubby cub had already sensed his intention to “run away” again.

“I really don’t want to leave your side for a moment.” Xue Yao was about to say “but” but was interrupted by the Seventh Prince.

“Your Highness doesn’t want buts,” the Seventh Prince said coldly.

Xue Yao still voiced his thoughts, “But I haven’t seen my… granduncle in many years.”

“Let him come to the capital to see you,” the Seventh Prince provided a solution.

“He’s not in good health now,” Xue Yao pleaded, “I must go back to my hometown to visit my granduncle.”

“Your Highness will visit Granduncle with Yaoyao.”

“You don’t have a granduncle,” Consort Xi calmly shattered her son’s illusion.

“I’ll be back in the capital very soon. Your Highness, you must continue your studies and martial training without any delays. You can’t leave the city. His Majesty and Her Highness won’t approve of it.”

The Seventh Prince immediately flattered Consort Xi, “Mother will surely be reasonable and let your son leave the palace.”

“She won’t.” Consort Xi remained seemingly emotionless, a killer in her demeanor.

The Seventh Prince turned to please Mother Consort, “Shall your grandpa tell you the story of Kuafu Chasing the Sun?”

“No,” Consort Xi remained unmoved.

The Seventh Prince picked up a small rib with his chopsticks and offered it to Mother Consort. “Which Your Highness is the most obedient?”

“The Sixth Prince,” Consort Xi replied promptly, showing no mercy.

“……” The Seventh Prince’s face was struck dumb. After a moment, he looked around in despair. “This must not be Qingqiong Hall. Your son will ask for another Mother Consort.”

“Go ahead.” Consort Xi remained cold-hearted. “After all, the Mother Consort you live with here no longer wants you.”

The Seventh Prince was thunderstruck, turning his head with a look of grievance to Silly Yaoyao!

Xue Yao: “……”

That’ll make you stick with your mother’s skin!

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