The Tyrant’s Cannon Fodder Male Empress Chapter 75

Chapter 75

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The upcoming trip out of the capital was different from the last trip. Every necessity had to be carefully prepared.

Gathering medicinal herbs was a priority. They had to be stored in the Interstice Mall to avoid performing magic tricks in front of the attendants.

In addition, protective clothing must be hastily made within half a month.

Because sewing will damage the airtightness of the protective suits, Xue Yao asked the tailor to cut out a complete cover suit, and then seal it with glue himself.

The completion of all these tasks conveniently coincided with the chubby cub’s birthday.

This marked the tenth birthday that Xue Yao had spent accompanying the Seventh Prince.

As usual, he went out of the palace to play with the three young princes.

Knowing that Xue Yao would be leaving the capital to visit his family the day after tomorrow, the princes were not as lively as in previous years.

However, the Seventh Prince was still unwilling.

The Sixth Prince, on the surface, was teaching his younger brother to be sensible, but in reality, he was looking for an opportunity to hint to Xue Yao – it would be best to have relatives visit the capital instead.

The warm baby didn’t want him to leave.

“A true man shouldn’t fuss,” the Fifth Prince consoled his younger siblings. “It’s just a trip to Suzhou to visit family. He’ll be back in a month or two.”

The Sixth Prince hung his head in shame and didn’t insist any longer.

The Seventh Prince looked resolutely at Xue Yao and offered his help, “Family visits require the protection of a real man.”

The Fifth Prince added, “Indeed, with Fourth Zhang accompanying him, even if they encounter bandits, there’s nothing to fear.”

The Seventh Prince, in a slightly disdainful tone, reminded his fifth brother, “Your son is a man.”

“Don’t worry about it!” The Fifth Prince pinched his younger brother’s chubby cheeks. “Behave well in the palace and follow Fourth Zhang’s instructions for your basic training.”

Xue Yao also reassured, “That’s right, Your Highness. I’ll be back in no time, and if you don’t count the round trip, it’s about a month.”

【Lu Qian’s sense of security -1.】

The Seventh Prince walked away unhappily, puffing his cheeks.

Xue Yao hurriedly caught up and coaxed, “Your Highness, train diligently in the palace. When I return, I want to be pleasantly surprised by your progress. How did the obedient Your Highness suddenly become so skilled? You’re becoming more of a man, isn’t that good?”

“Not good.” 

Xue Yao sighed. “Your Highness, you’re growing up. You can’t always have me by your side. In the future, when you become a lord and have your own territory, I can’t go with you to the fief.”

The Seventh Prince turned to him with curiosity. “Second Brother and Third Brother don’t have their own territories.”

The two older brothers were already titled as Princes, but the Emperor didn’t want his sons to leave for their fiefs too early, so they remained in the capital for now.

“They might have them in the future,” Xue Yao explained, “And besides, they have their own residences now, so they don’t need attendants with them all the time.”

The Seventh Prince asked nervously, “Who will be with them?”

Xue Yao thought for a moment. The Hermit God Second Prince didn’t need anyone, and as for the Third Prince, well… he had a group of concubines, so he wasn’t lonely.

“They have their Princess Consorts to accompany them. A wife is the one who stays by your side for life,” Xue Yao gently guided, hoping to trigger the Tyrant’s Fluttering Heart quest.

The Seventh Prince’s tea-colored eyes sparkled with anticipation as he asked, “How to become a wife?”

Xue Yao smiled. “First, Your Highness needs to find someone you like, and she should like you back. Then, both sets of parents need to agree, and you can perform the marriage rites, including bowing to heaven and earth. Lift the bride’s veil, and she becomes your wife.”

The Seventh Prince blinked in surprise, seemingly eager for this process. He glanced at Silly Yaoyao, and after a rare moment of embarrassment, he finally asked nonchalantly, “Would you like to bow to heaven and earth with your grandpa?”

“Ha!” Xue Yao was amused. “If Your Highness is going to worship the heavens and earth with the your princess consort, why would I meddle in that? Of course, I can’t bow with Your Highness.”

The Seventh Prince didn’t seem to expect such a straightforward refusal. His cheeks turned red, and he pouted at Xue Yao, issuing a stern declaration, “If you won’t bow, then no bowing! Your grandpa doesn’t want to bow with Silly Yaoyao!”

Xue Yao couldn’t contain his laughter and pinched the chubby cub’s cheek.

His Highness tilted his head away, refusing to be pinched!

“Your grandpa will buy beautiful veils, and Yaoyao won’t get any!” The Seventh Prince, feeling embarrassed and angry, used strong words in an attempt to make the heartless reader-in-waiting regret!

“Hahahahaha!” Xue Yao burst into hearty laughter.

How could his chubby cub be so adorable? Hahaha!

【Lu Qian’s sense of security -7.】

“…Hahaha, cough! Cough…” Suddenly choked by a system alert, Xue Yao looked at the chubby cub in alarm. “Your Highness, what’s wrong?”

The chubby cub turned away in a huff.

This farewell before their departure from the capital wasn’t as smooth as he’d hoped.

Only when he was following a group of physicians aboard an official ship did Fourth Zhang discover the true purpose of Xue Yao’s journey.

“Don’t worry, I’m just concerned about encountering bandits on the way. Once we reach Pingrong County, you won’t have to deal with the patients,” Xue Yao explained the situation to Fourth Zhang.

“What’s there to worry about?” Fourth Zhang shrugged it off. “I’ve got a tough constitution. Over thirty years ago, my father and my brothers all succumbed to a plague, and I survived. Even with my family gone, I managed to keep going. You should take better care of your own health. I don’t think you can withstand much rough treatment with your frail frame.”

Xue Yao looked at Fourth Zhang in surprise. “Your family was all affected by the plague?”

“My mother and I managed to escape,” Fourth Zhang said with a smile. “I don’t know how, but she somehow survived that epidemic. With my father and brothers gone, she struggled to keep me alive as her only remaining child. She made it through the plague, but ended up with consumption.”

Xue Yao felt his heart racing.

In ancient times, when common people faced such disasters, it was unimaginably cruel. Fourth Zhang’s indifferent attitude toward these hardships made Xue Yao wonder what he had gone through.

Consumption was tuberculosis, a nearly incurable ailment in ancient times. If a wealthy person got infected and received proper care, they might live a bit longer. But if a poor person contracted it, it was torture leading to death.

Hearing Fourth Zhang mention that his mother was his only surviving relative, Xue Yao tentatively offered, “You’re living in the palace, if it’s inconvenient for you to take care of your mother…”

Fourth Zhang chuckled. “Take care of what? My mother passed away long ago.”

Xue Yao was left speechless.

Fourth Zhang gazed at the scenery along the canal, squinting his eyes as he recalled with a hint of resignation, “It would have been better if she had contracted that plague, a swift death with a kick, clean and easy. Instead, she got that cursed consumption. She drained every last bit of our savings on medicine, and the more she took, the worse her condition became. She became frail and useless, a complete waste of money.”

Xue Yao found these words somewhat jarring, but he couldn’t judge Fourth Zhang’s character from his position of privilege.

“She was stubborn, and I couldn’t just abandon her,” Fourth Zhang continued, gazing into the distance, reminiscing about the beginning of his downfall. “There was a wandering healer who conned me, claiming to have a divine medicine. He said three pills would cure my mother, but the price was steep, two taels of silver for a single pill. I went door to door collecting money from people, planning to sell myself as a laborer to wealthy households and pay them back later. I didn’t think much of myself at the time. Then…” Fourth Zhang licked his lips, his expression darkening, “My mother didn’t take the three pills properly, but she developed a craving for the medicine. Without it, she said life wasn’t worth living. I went to that healer, and he raised the price, asking for five taels of silver for a single pill.”

Xue Yao suddenly froze. At that moment, he saw genuine emotion in Fourth Zhang’s weathered eyes.

True hardship, it seemed, could render some people incapable of displaying their sorrow.

He carried all the burdens alone, not even allowing himself the luxury of emotional outbursts.

This seemingly placid demeanor didn’t signify indifference. Perhaps it was his way of preventing hardship from breaking him.

A sudden, heavy thought crossed Xue Yao’s mind. The chubby cub in the novel had unexpectedly shouldered all the burdens when Father Emperor and his eldest brother departed.

Since then, the Seventh Prince had never again revealed vulnerability or sadness.

Strength and coldness might not be innate traits. It could be that there was no way back, no reliance to lean on, so they had to become the support for others.

Fourth Zhang continued reminiscing about his past, “I was born a thief, stole for a year without getting caught by the authorities, even drawing the attention of a reclusive master passing through the town. That master apprehended me to rid the people of a scourge. Initially, he intended to hand me over to the authorities and find out why I resorted to thievery. But the master felt compassion and even took me on as his disciple. Unfortunately, I still disappointed him, and my mother still died. A miscreant like me survived.”

“You’re not a miscreant,” Xue Yao responded with disapproval. “Fourth Zhang, you’ve promised to be my friend. I only befriend heroes and good men. The past is irrelevant. You should cherish our friendship. In the latter part of your life, strive to be a hero and a good man.”

Fourth Zhang grinned. “Deal, I’ll do my best to keep you as a friend.”

Upon reaching Pingrong County, the endless rice fields provided some relief for Xue Yao.

The well-maintained crops indicated that the epidemic might not be severe if the fields weren’t neglected. The situation of over seventy people infected with the plague was likely not an exaggeration.

They arrived at their temporary residence with several imperial physicians and renowned physicians from the capital.

It was a mansion specially set up to host central government officials, featuring a four-part layout with a garden, providing decent accommodations.

Xue Yao asked the gatekeeper, “Are there any patients receiving treatment in the mansion?”

The gatekeeper replied, “The physicians make house calls, and there were originally two physicians here who had the illness. One of them passed away half a month ago and was sent back to his hometown. The other one has already left Pingrong.”

Xue Yao nodded and settled with Fourth Zhang into a room in the third courtyard. He instructed the attendants to bring disinfectant water and thoroughly wash the rooms where patients had stayed, leaving doors and windows open for ventilation.

Because there was no concept of viruses in ancient times, such actions left the accompanying physicians puzzled. Xue Yao’s inexplicable behavior seemed superstitious and odd to onlookers.

The next day, he donned a protective mask and made house calls with the physicians, which further baffled them.

In the eyes of the other physicians, these scientific safety measures were seen as disrespectful to the patients.

Xue Yao had anticipated this situation before he arrived, but he couldn’t explain to ancient people that there were viruses only visible through a microscope and that they could be transmitted through the air. He had to act differently.

After two days of clinical observation, Xue Yao noticed that the patient’s symptoms bore some resemblance to the descriptions of a plague recorded by Liu Shangyou during the Chongzhen era.

Coughing up blood wasn’t uncommon among patients, but the appearance of swollen lymph nodes in the groin and armpits could indicate bubonic plague.

It was the beginning of a catastrophic event.

Xue Yao left the patients’ quarters in alarm and immediately produced homemade soap with a mixture of fatty acids. He requested that the physicians who had been in contact with the patients wash their hands and faces.

The imperial physicians and renowned physicians were dismissive of Xue Yao’s peculiar behavior and demands, but since he was sent by the Crown Prince, they couldn’t say much. They silently complied and washed their hands with soap.

After washing, they began an urgent consultation.

“These symptoms are not documented in historical records,” the senior imperial physician spoke first. “Judging from the pulse, it seems to be a Yin ailment. We should prescribe a formula with strong heating properties to temporarily sustain their lives.”

Several physicians stroked their beards and offered additional opinions.

Xue Yao patiently listened to everyone and then respectfully reminded them, “Esteemed physicians, this illness is unlike a common Yin ailment. Multiple members of one family have fallen ill consecutively. This is a sign of a major epidemic. I believe it’s best to collectively send all the afflicted residents to remote outskirts for isolation and treatment to prevent further innocent people from being affected.”

The surrounding medical professionals exchanged puzzled looks, clearly hesitant about the actions of this eccentric outsider.

The senior imperial physician said, “Even if it’s an epidemic, as long as there is no direct contact, one won’t be infected. If Master Xue is concerned, you can refrain from accompanying us on future visits. Practicing medicine and treating patients is our duty as physicians. There’s no reason to round up all the patients and dump them in the wilderness.”

Xue Yao felt a sinking feeling in his heart. It seemed he was in trouble.

If it was the bubonic plague, there was currently no way to extract a vaccine.

Fortunately, the homes of the common folk in this county were not densely packed, or else the epidemic might have spiraled out of control.

Regarding this type of epidemic, the only known formula in historical texts was Wu Xuanchong’s “Method for Treating Bubonic Plague.” Although the methods for prevention and avoidance mentioned in the book were feasible, its efficacy was quite limited.

Based on current technology, isolating the patients was the most effective course of action.

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