Yuan Li’s simple words caused a great shock to Chu Hechao.
Chu Hechao’s gaze burned intensely, his hands clenched tightly, and he remained silent for a long time. Yuan Li rubbed his nose under his gaze and asked, “General?”
Chu Hechao suddenly stood up and strode over to Yuan Li. Something was fluctuating in his eyes, and he finally spoke in a low voice, “Sister-in-law, there will be many disabled soldiers in the army.”
“I know,” Yuan Li replied.
After a pause, he continued, “I can make proper arrangements for the future of the disabled soldiers. If we plan to cleanse Youzhou, we can assign the soldiers with less severe injuries to supervise the local counties and understand the situation of the people. This will ensure the stability of Youzhou, establish our own government’s credibility, and win the hearts of the people. It will not only benefit our control of Youzhou but also benefit your army greatly, bringing stability and gratitude to the soldiers.”
As soon as he finished speaking, Chu Hechao decisively said, “I agree.”
Afterward, Chu Hechao took a deep breath and suddenly bowed to Yuan Li, saying, “Sister-in-law, thank you.”
Yuan Li smiled faintly, and after discussing the matter, he became polite and distant again. “General, please don’t dislike my interference.”
Having said that, he nodded slightly to Chu Hechao and walked out of the tent.
Before he could step out of the tent, he heard hurried footsteps behind him. Chu Hechao suddenly grabbed Yuan Li’s arm.
Yuan Li heard him say in a rigid tone, “Sister-in-law, I was wrong.”
“I was in the wrong about this,” Chu Hechao held Yuan Li’s arm tightly, his hand even circling around his forearm, burning like intense fire. “Sister-in-law, I need you to stay in Youzhou and be in charge for me.”
Yuan Li remained silent.
Chu Hechao exerted some force, causing Yuan Li to slightly turn sideways. Chu Hechao looked at the disheveled strands of hair at Yuan Li’s temples and his tightly pursed lips. His tone suddenly softened, carrying a sense of apology. “Sister-in-law, you have been distant from me this month, and I have also thought a lot. This younger brother is impulsive, so please forgive me.”
Every word he spoke was sincere, clearly conveying his intention: he still wanted to continue working with Yuan Li.
Yuan Li turned to look at him, then glanced at the hand that was circling his forearm. In the instant their gazes met, Chu Hechao immediately let go and bowed in apology, displaying the appearance of a humble subordinate. “Please forgive me, sister-in-law, and be magnanimous.”
Yuan Li remained silent for a moment and whispered, “This is your territory, General, Youzhou. The things I brought with me are just some possessions, three hundred followers, a few craftsmen, and their families. General, we can negotiate this time, but what will you do if there is a next time?”
Certain matters needed to be discussed before cooperation.
Chu Hechao stood up straight and said with preparedness, “Please raise your hand, sister-in-law.”
Yuan Li was confused but extended his hand nonetheless. Chu Hechao took something from his waist and placed it in Yuan Li’s hand.
It was a palm-sized seal, and Yuan Li realized what it was, causing his heartbeat to quicken slightly. He turned the seal over and faced the inscription on top, illuminated by the light coming in from outside the tent.
On top were six small seal characters: Seal of the Youzhou Governor.
This was actually the seal of the governor, the seal that could govern the entire Youzhou!
Yuan Li looked up at Chu Hechao in surprise.
Chu Hechao smiled faintly. “Although you haven’t turned 20 yet, sister-in-law, and I cannot grant you the position of the legitimate Youzhou governor, I can temporarily pass the seal of the Youzhou governor to you until then.”
This was Chu Hechao’s sincere gesture.
A smile flashed across Yuan Li’s lips. In theory, he should have engaged in some back and forth with Chu Hechao, refusing a few times before accepting the seal as part of the proper protocol. However, since there were only the two of them in the tent, Yuan Li didn’t intend to go through these formalities. He neatly put away the seal and candidly said to Chu Hechao, “General, there are a few things I would like to establish with you.”
Chu Hechao stood with his hands behind his back, standing upright. He said, “Please speak.”
“First, I ask the general to trust in my sincerity that I will never betray you behind your back,” Yuan Li said, “We are relatives, we are family. If I were to do anything harmful to the Chu Clan, I would become a treacherous villain, and I would fall from grace without any action required from you. Secondly, between you and me, we should trust each other more. If we want peace in the front and stability in the rear, we must be straightforward with each other.”
Chu Hechao nodded in agreement.
“One last thing,” Yuan Li paused, “In the future, whatever I do in Youzhou, I expect the general to provide full assistance.”
For this last point, Chu Hechao pondered for a while before finally nodding.
With that, the matter was considered settled. In the following days, under Chu Hechao’s deliberate guidance, the disabled soldiers who could no longer fight on the battlefield learned about Yuan Li’s plea to the general on their behalf.
After learning that there was still a place for them to go, these disabled soldiers were overwhelmed with excitement and tears of joy. When Yuan Li visited the infirmary once again, the injured soldiers, dragging their maimed bodies, insisting on expressing their gratitude to him.
Yuan Li couldn’t stop them and could only watch as these injured soldiers, with tears in their eyes, clung to their last straw of hope, eager to prove their worth.
In their eyes, Yuan Li represented a glimmer of hope to keep on living.
This incident spread not only throughout the infirmary but also among all the soldiers in the camp.
They had never imagined that there could be a place for them after their injuries. The uninjured soldiers felt inspired and redoubled their efforts in the siege, grateful to the general and Yuan Li. Their respect for Yuan Li grew, even though he didn’t hold any official position in the camp. They trusted and believed in him. Yuan Li’s reputation for kindness and benevolence once again spread widely, even faster and farther than before.
Soon, Yuan Li received a notification from the encyclopedia system.
【The Encyclopedia of All Things system has been activated. Task completed: Attaining a certain level of reputation in the camp. Rewards have been issued. Please explore on your own, Host.】
Just like the soap formula and refined sugar formula, the best method for purifying fine salt emerged in Yuan Li’s mind, tailored to the current environment of the Northern Zhou Dynasty.
After carefully reading and memorizing the formula, Yuan Li couldn’t help but smile.
The eastern part of Youzhou was the Bohai Sea, rich in marine resources. Since they were close to the sea, it must be utilized to make the most of Youzhou’s unique geographical conditions.
In the eyes of the people, Youzhou had always been considered poor and remote, with the finances consistently in the negative. Moreover, many criminals were exiled to Youzhou, and there were also a significant number of nomadic tribes migrating into Youzhou. As a result, people had a negative impression of Youzhou.
This situation needed to change.
If Youzhou’s external image has always been like this, even in troubled times, the common people would be reluctant to flee all the way to Youzhou. The White Rice Gang had ravaged Youzhou for several months, plundering the wealth of numerous wealthy landlords. After they quelled the uprising, the lands and farms hidden by these landlords would be exposed, and these lands and estates would require manpower for development and cultivation. Without people, how could Youzhou be developed?
Not to mention the wealthy, educated, and influential strategists. Who would have the leisure to travel to Youzhou?
Even now, with uprisings raging in various places, Luoyang remained the political center chased after by intellectuals.
In Luoyang, they could gain connections and political resources, quickly establish their reputation, and have excellent opportunities for development. But in Youzhou, what could they gain?
There were only a few strategists like Liu Jixin who were willing to follow Yuan Li to Youzhou, but even someone like Liu Jixin didn’t fully regard Yuan Li as a capable leader.
Yuan Li wanted to change this situation, but first, he needed to change the image of poverty and chaos that Youzhou presented to the world.
Once Youzhou became prosperous and peaceful, the people would naturally flock there. To attract intellectuals, they would need something more appealing.
For example… powerful warlords in troubled times, or a Youzhou Governor with a reputation for seeking talent, learning from great scholars, and possessing outstanding virtues.
This was what Yuan Li thought.
After contemplating, he couldn’t help but chuckle. He was beginning to understand the power of reputation.
Half a month later, the motivated soldiers bravely captured another stronghold of the White Rice Gang. Meanwhile, Yuan Li’s reputation reached a new height during the next round of treating wounded soldiers.
Even though he hadn’t personally fought or gained any tangible military achievements, his fame far surpassed that of the attacking generals. Yuan Li was busy and didn’t pay much attention to this, but those around him noticed.
The people around him saw this situation as a positive development. Yuan Li didn’t compete with the generals for credit, and even Yang Zhongfa and He Lang, despite being unable to fault Yuan Li, knew the difference. After coming off the battlefield, they came to thank Yuan Li and expressed their gratitude for saving their soldiers.
Yuan Li exchanged a few pleasantries with them, and this became another tale that spread throughout the military camp.
Upon hearing this story, Yuan Li couldn’t help but smile. He intentionally taught Wu Kai a lesson and asked, “Do you know the benefit of spreading this story?”
Wu Kai pondered for a moment and uncertainly replied, “To let the soldiers know that Generals Yang and He are always thinking of them?”
“Correct,” nodded Yuan Li. “When the two generals personally came to thank me, the soldiers will not only be grateful to me for saving them but also feel gratitude towards the generals for expressing their thanks. They will see the two generals as caring for the soldiers like their own children and hold them in high regard. Their gratitude towards the generals will not be any less than their gratitude towards me.”
Wu Kai furrowed his brow and asked, “Why? Didn’t you lead the soldiers to save them?”
So, is saving their lives worth less than a bow and a word of thanks?
“That is the power brought by official positions,” Yuan Li remained calm. “A skilled doctor may save many lives, but they won’t be praised by everyone. However, a high-ranking and authoritative general who takes notice of the common soldiers will truly touch their hearts. Even if they haven’t done much, just a few words can yield the results of the nameless soldiers’ efforts for hundreds of days.”
This is the reason why everyone desires to climb higher.
Greater power, wealth, and the enormous impact that every action brings.
Liu Jixin, who had been silently observing, suddenly spoke, “Does the young master feel discontented because of this?”
“Discontented?” Yuan Li chuckled and countered, “Why should I be discontented?”
At this moment, inside the tent where only the three of them were present, Yuan Li disregarded any constraints. He raised his eyebrows and with a hint of youthful spirit, he said, “I only want to do what I want to do, what I am capable of doing. Moreover…”
He playfully winked, “I am still so young. In the future, my achievements may not necessarily be inferior to those of the two generals.”
With his memories from his previous life and the help of a system, if Yuan Li couldn’t establish great achievements, he would look down on himself.
His words were decisive, and Liu Jixin caught a glimpse of his sharpness. His eyes lit up, and he said meaningfully, “I think young master can obtain an official position in the military.”
“You shot down Ma Renyi and helped the General with five hundred cavalry defeat twenty thousand White Rice Gang members. Such youthful heroism is no small matter. In addition, young master reformed the medical camp, treated numerous soldiers, and provided a way out for the disabled soldiers. Your reputation in the army is already quite high,” Liu Jixin’s voice grew more excited as he spoke, his pace quickening. “With military achievements and reputation, obtaining the position of a Lieutenant Colonel would be effortless! It’s just a pity that you haven’t yet reached the legal age, so you can’t enjoy any of these benefits. This, sigh…”
He sighed with regret, deeply lamenting, “It’s a pity, such a pity.”
However, Yuan Li didn’t share the same sentiment. His goal wasn’t to become a combat-oriented general. “Sir, your words are mistaken. If one possesses talent, why worry about not achieving such merits two years later?”
Liu Jixin was momentarily stunned.
After a while, he suddenly burst into laughter. After laughing, he immediately bowed deeply to Yuan Li.
“Master’s words are absolutely correct.”
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