Chapter 34: Zhu Gaoxu’s Divination, Zhu Di’s Counterattack
In a quiet alley, Zhu Gaoxu looked at the middle-aged man sitting at the fortune-telling stall. The man wore dark clothes with a patch of white cloth, giving him a mismatched appearance. On the table lay an old book “Classic of Changes,” and beside it was a sign that read “Fortune Telling and Destiny Reading.”
“Are you Jin Zhong?” Zhu Gaoxu asked, somewhat skeptical.
Jin Zhong squinted his eyes and looked at Zhu Gaoxu, then stood up and bowed, saying, “Indeed, I am. Might I ask if the young master is here on a recommendation?”
Zhu Gaoxu nodded slightly and said, “Yes, I am. Tell me, can one’s destiny truly be calculated?”
Jin Zhong smiled and observed Zhu Gaoxu before responding, “All things and appearances can be analyzed, revealing their inner essence. To know one thing is to glimpse another, and seeking further understanding is not a difficult task. Personal destiny lies between yin and yang, within the five elements, and it can indeed be determined.”
Zhu Gaoxu nodded and took out a silver ingot, placing it on the table, saying, “Then, please calculate mine.”
Jin Zhong stroked his beard, collected the silver ingot, and asked, “Does the young master wish to calculate through divination or Literomancy?”
Considering the current situation, Zhu Gaoxu thought that if he made any slight mistake, there would be no place for him in the King of Yan’s mansion. Although he was the prince, he lacked a good strategy and could only wait anxiously as Zhu Yunwen gradually encroached. What would his future hold?
With a sigh, Zhu Gaoxu said, “Let’s do Literomancy.”
Jin Zhong prepared his writing materials and inquired, “What aspect of your life would you like to analyze: marriage, wealth, or career?”
Zhu Gaoxu picked up the pen and wrote a character. The upper part of the character was “人” (person), and the lower part was “十” (ten). He said, “Let’s analyze my destiny.”
Jin Zhong glanced at Zhu Gaoxu, lowered his head, picked up the paper, and carefully examined the character “仐.” He smiled faintly and said, “This character is quite interesting, young master. ‘仐’ can also be pronounced as ‘今’ and means ‘today’ or ‘this moment.’ It is said that those who lack foresight will encounter immediate worries. Young master, you are concerned about the present, which can be considered a burden. ‘仐’ can also be pronounced as ‘伞,’ which means ‘umbrella’ or ‘shelter.’ It appears that young master holds a prominent position with a protective shelter, no danger at the moment, yet…”
“Yet what?” Zhu Gaoxu asked, astonished, as he raised an eyebrow and looked at Jin Zhong.
Jin Zhong continued, “However, outside the umbrella, there is wind and rain. If the wind picks up, you may get wet.”
Zhu Gaoxu’s eyebrows furrowed as he looked at Jin Zhong, amazed by his words. Jin Zhong’s analysis made sense. At present, he faced numerous troubles and obstacles.
The recent incident of the New Military Policy being exposed had put all the soldiers in a state of waiting for his father’s explanation. A single mishandling could lead to the immediate disintegration of the Three Guards, resulting in a loss of military morale.
As for the reference to having a protective shelter, wasn’t it indicating his status as the prince with a vassal king above him?
No dangers at the moment?
Speaking of the present moment, although not in a perilous situation, one is still amidst the storms. If turbulence arises, even if one has a shelter, it would be impossible to escape unscathed.
“Is there more?”
Zhu Gaoxu suppressed his astonishment and inquired.
Jin Zhong pointed to the character “仐” and said, “Young master, observe closely. The upper part of this character is ‘人’ (person), and the lower part is ‘十’ (ten). Looking from below, the character ‘十’ represents vertical and horizontal directions, connecting the North and the South, and linking the East and the West. It signifies the four corners, which are all territories of kings. If my analysis is correct, young master, you possess an extraordinary background and are closely related to the imperial family. Your future path should be that of a vassal king or even higher than a vassal king.”
Zhu Gaoxu furrowed his brows slightly and pondered. “Higher than a vassal king? What does that mean?”
According to the regulations of the imperial court, if his father passed away, his eldest brother Zhu Gaochi would undoubtedly inherit the title of King of Yan, and he would only be the Prince of Gaoyang. There were only two possibilities for him to become a vassal King:
First, if both his father and eldest brother passed away, and his eldest brother without leaving any heirs, he would naturally succeed the title of Prince of Yan.
Second, if his father led everyone to conquer the world, overthrowing Zhu Yunwen, and becoming the emperor, wouldn’t he become a vassal king then?
Higher than a vassal king?
What could be above a vassal king?
Could it be that Jin Zhong is implying that he possesses the fortune of an emperor?
Zhu Gaoxu’s eyes sparkled as he looked at Jin Zhong and asked, “Is there more?”
Jin Zhong calmly said, “Furthermore, looking at the upper part of ‘仐,’ there is the character ‘人’ (person) above it. A person stands above the four corners, indicating that young master will hold a high position in the future. However, it is somewhat regrettable…”
Zhu Gaoxu quickly asked.
Jin Zhong pointed to the character “仐” on the paper and said, “It’s a pity that this character ‘人’ (person) hasn’t fully emerged.”
Zhu Gaoxu’s cheeks twitched slightly as he stared at Jin Zhong and shouted in a stern voice, “What do you mean?”
Jin Zhong put away the paper, looked at Zhu Gaoxu, and calmly said, “When one hasn’t yet achieved success, one should strive even harder. In life, there are destined moments that should not be ignored. Young master, ahead of you lies a promising future, so why not take a walk and see for yourself?.”
Seeing that Jin Zhong didn’t want to say more, Zhu Gaoxu suppressed his doubts. He took out the jade pendant his father had given him and placed it on the table, respectfully saying, “I am Zhu Gaoxu. I request your assistance in freeing the King of Yan’s Residence from its predicament.”
“The Prince?” Jin Zhong was taken aback and quickly stepped forward to pay his respects, saying, “I have been ignorant and failed to recognize Your Highness. I have offended you earlier. Please forgive me, Your Highness.”
Zhu Gaoxu helped Jin Zhong up and solemnly said, “I have come here today on behalf of my father to invite you, sir, to the residence for a discussion.”
Jin Zhong chuckled and said, “It must be about New Military Policy, right?”
Zhu Gaoxu nodded solemnly and asked, “Do you have a solution, sir?”
Jin Zhong shook his head slightly and said, “This matter needs to be discussed with the King of Yan before a decision can be made. Your Highness, please allow me to put away these utensils.”
In the King of Yan’s residence,
Zhu Di invited Jin Zhong to take a seat, but Jin Zhong hesitated and declined several times before sitting to Zhu Di’s right.
Zhu Di recounted to Jin Zhong his rejection of the New Military Policy to the Three Guards in the capital. He then said, “Currently, the Three Guards are filled with anxiety, and some even call me Zhu Di a merciless butcher who disregards human sentiment. Hehe, if this continues, I can only return to the capital to guard the mausoleum.”
Jin Zhong contemplated for a while and said seriously, “Your Highness, the New Military Policy is not without its weaknesses. There is still room for maneuver.”
Zhu Di quickly stood up, made a deep bow, and said, “Please assist me, sir.”
Jin Zhong quickly stood up and moved to the side. He couldn’t bear the formalities of the prince. If he sat there arrogantly and endured it, he might end up getting killed one day.
Being cautious, understanding etiquette, and understanding others’ thoughts are Jin Zhong’s ways of survival.
Jin Zhong returned the courtesy and then said seriously, “Your Highness, the New Military Policy may seem advantageous, but it also has significant flaws.”
“Oh? What do you mean?”
Zhu Di pulled Jin Zhong to sit down and asked.
Jin Zhong said, “The New Military Policy, stirring people’s hearts, but ultimately, it all comes down to the word “interest.” The Emperor uses benefits to motivate and gain the loyalty of the army. However, the Emperor is still relatively young. After implementing the strategy in the capital for just over a month, he dares to expand it to areas like North Zhili. This will bring about a significant problem.”
“What problem?” asked Zhu Di, pondering.
In a deep voice, Jin Zhong replied, “The problem of soaring military expenses and insufficient food supplies! King of Yan has been in charge of the troops for years and knows the tremendous cost. Although the New Military Policy seems generous, it is not sustainable. You see, where can we find enough meat in the northern regions? How much livestock is there around Beiping Prefecture and beyond? In the frigid north, how can we obtain such a large quantity of livestock?”
“Forget about meat for now, let’s talk about the increased food supplies. How much will it cost? Beiping Prefecture currently has only 700,000 stones of grain in storage, but it needs to supply not only the 80,000 troops of Three Guards but also the 50,000 soldiers of the Provincial Military office, and over 100,000 civilians. Not long ago, Sheng Yong also brought in an additional 30,000 soldiers from various guards outside the city. How much food will all these people need?”
“The food supplies have barely been balanced before, but now with an additional 30,000 soldiers, there will be people going hungry. Once the court fails to provide enough, even a slight flaw in the New Military Policy will expose vulnerabilities everywhere. The New Military Policy will become a laughingstock!”
“At that time, the soldiers will voice their complaints and will not be willing to remain loyal to a Monarch with empty promises. Then, when the King of Yan raises his arm and calls, the soldiers of the world will respond in unison, and the great plan can be realized!”
Zhu Di, Zhu Gaochi, Zhu Gaoxu, Zhang Yu, and others listened to Jin Zhong’s words and praised him one after another.
It must be said that Jin Zhong’s words hit the core of Zhu Yunwen’s vulnerability.
Implementing the New Military Policy is easy, but sticking to it is not. Once problems arise, the soldiers will surely cause trouble. These soldiers are professional warriors with weapons, and one day they may rebel!
From this perspective, things are not looking too good.
Zhu Di breathed a sigh of relief and smiled, “Before Dao Yan left, he recommended you to the King of Yan’s Mansion. Today, I have heard your insightful words, you are indeed extraordinary. However, I would like to know, when do you think the flaws in the New Army’s strategy will be revealed?”
Jin Zhong calculated and said, “Within two years.”
Zhu Di frowned. Two years seemed a bit long, and he might not be able to wait that long. However, if there is a real opportunity, waiting for another two years would be acceptable!
“Then, how do we solve the current dilemma?” Zhu Gaochi asked.
Jin Zhong respectfully clasped his hands to Zhu Gaochi and said, “Your Highness, what you asked is the most urgent matter at present. This matter requires the cooperation of the King of Yan…”
The Three Guards’ drill ground.
Zhu Di wore his armor and military robe, imposing and majestic. The 80,000 soldiers of the Three Guards lined up in a disciplined manner, and for a while, no one dared to speak.
Although many people dared to speak ill of Zhu Di on ordinary days, no one dared to directly confront him when facing him!
Zhu Di stood on a high platform, drew his sword from his waist, and threw it fiercely, shouting loudly, “Who wants to kill me, Zhu Di? Come! Today, I will stand here and let him kill me. Who dares to take a step forward!”
Majestic and awe-inspiring, no one dared to move!
Zhu Di angrily shouted, “Many of you have followed me for ten years, twenty years, or even longer! What kind of person am I? Can’t you see clearly? Just because of a New Military Policy, you lost your souls. With such soldiers, how can we go into battle and kill enemies? How can we be loyal to our country? Haha, some say I am a bloodthirsty butcher. Today, even if butcher you incompetent soldiers, the court won’t say a word!”
“The New Military Policy is the National Policy of the Great Ming! What is a national policy? It means that wherever the territory of the Great Ming is, this policy should be implemented! Do you think you are outside the realm of the Great Ming? Qiu Fu, tell me, where are we?”
“We are in the Great Ming’s Beiping!”
“Have you all understood clearly? We are in the Great Ming’s Beiping! Can we do without the New Military Policy? No, we can’t! What are you losing and giving up? Why do I not allow the new military policy to enter Three Guards? Because I know that this national policy is full of flaws and may not be feasible!”
“Let’s talk about the Family Affairs Department, Can it be established just because we say so? After it is established, can it immediately solve the problems for parents? How many people will the Family Affairs Department have? Can it manage the families of tens of thousands of soldiers?”
“Let’s talk about the medical funds! If we calculate it as one or two taels per soldier per year, that’s two million taels. Last year, the total money in the Great Ming’s treasury was only three million taels. Can we take out two million taels as medical funds? Do you think it’s feasible?”
“This confused New Military Policy is nothing but a passing illusion, deceiving your eyes! This strategy is not feasible, and not sustainable. I know the problems involved, that’s why I hesitate to let you join the New Military Policy. I fear that you will fall from heaven to hell!”
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