This snowfall came much later than last year.
It was so late that Yuan Li thought there wouldn’t be a snow disaster this year. But before the end of the year, the snow finally arrived.
The snowfall was swift and urgent, covering the earth with a thin layer of white in just a moment.
Yuan Li stood by the window, watching the heavy snowfall outside.
From time to time, the servants would excitedly shout, “The heavy snow has arrived!” “Snow is a sign of a bountiful year!” “The snow has finally come; we thought it wouldn’t before the new year. The farmers in the villages were getting anxious.”
Everyone rejoiced at the arrival of the heavy snow and saw it as an auspicious sign. However, Yuan Li felt a sense of concern.
Chu Hechao walked over from behind, joining Yuan Li in watching the snow outside. “Is it happening this year?”
The weather forecast wouldn’t be updated until tonight, showing the weather for the next seven days. Yuan Li shook his head. “We won’t know until tomorrow.”
A gust of cold air blew in from the window, carrying snowflakes that landed on their heads. Chu Hechao closed the window, brushing off the snow from himself and Yuan Li. “Don’t think too much. Even if it is happening this year, we are prepared.”
Yuan Li let out a sigh. “You’re right.”
He hoped the snow would stop soon, but it continued for a whole day and didn’t let up until bedtime.
When Yuan Li woke up the next morning, he felt a bone-chilling cold. He got up and saw that the charcoal fire in the room had extinguished, and his breath turned into white mist.
He shivered from the cold, and Chu Hechao also woke up. He wiped his face to wake himself up, then threw the blanket over Yuan Li and got out of bed to get dressed.
He moved swiftly, putting on his inner clothes in just a few moments, while pondering, “Why did it suddenly become so cold?”
“It’s a drop in temperature,” Yuan Li huddled in the blanket. “Is it still snowing outside?”
Because it was cold last night, Yuan Li didn’t have servants waiting on him.
Chu Hechao didn’t have to climb out of the window this time. He opened the door and looked outside, nodding. “It’s still snowing.”
Yuan Li quickly checked the weather forecast and felt his heart sink.
The weather forecast had been updated, and the results were not optimistic. It would be snowing heavily for the next full seven days.
Combined with the sudden drop in temperature today, it was almost certain that there would be a snow disaster this year.
Even though he didn’t want to face another disaster, Yuan Li had to prepare for the snow disaster.
Fortunately, he had made many preparations in advance. Yuan Li thought about the grains and coal in the warehouse, calming his mind.
Chu Hechao went outside to fetch some fresh charcoal, replacing the charcoal in the brazier. He rubbed his hands together and said, “The water outside has frozen. The kitchen is boiling water now. Get dressed and get up. I put your clothes at the end of the bed last night; they should still be warm. Did you feel them?”
Yuan Li hooked the clothes out from under the blanket and nodded. “Yes, they’re warm.”
Chu Hechao placed Yuan Li’s fur coat next to the brazier and stirred the brazier, sending sparks flying. The fire burned brightly.
Yuan Li put on his clothes, which consisted of five layers of winter garments. He felt exhausted from wearing them. When he turned his head, he saw Chu Hechao sitting by the bed, holding his boots over the brazier and warming them. He kept turning them over, examining the soles.
Chu Hechao carefully checked for any signs of cracks in Yuan Li’s boots and noticed that Yuan Li was looking at him. He said, “The snow outside is thick. Your boots are too thin; they’ll get wet as soon as you step outside.”
Yuan Li tied his belt and leaned over. “Are your boots wet?”
Chu Hechao reached out and touched his boots. As expected, the uppers were already wet, but he didn’t mind. “It’s fine.”
Yuan Li frowned and went to his trunk, rummaging through it. When the cotton jackets and shoes were made in October, they were delivered to him, and Lin Tian had stored them in his trunk.
Soon, Yuan Li took out two pairs of cotton shoes and cotton jackets. He asked Chu Hechao to try them on. Chu Hechao walked a few steps in the cotton shoes, raised his eyebrows, and looked at Yuan Li in surprise. “They’re warm.”
It felt like diving into a warm quilt.
Yuan Li then had him try on the cotton jacket. As soon as Chu Hechao put it on, he nodded, and a glimmer of astonishment flashed in his eyes. “These things are great. Is this the effect of cotton?”
Yuan Li smiled and nodded.
“They are excellent,” Chu Hechao said with a smile. “After wearing the cotton jacket for just a while, I’m sweating. If all the soldiers had a set…”
Even in the coldest winter, no one would freeze to death.
Yuan Li said generously, “We don’t have enough cotton right now to make a set for everyone. But when we have enough cotton in the coming years, I’ll make sure that every soldier under your command has a set of cotton clothing.”
Chu Hechao laughed. “Governor, you’re generous.”
The two exchanged a few more words jokingly before hurriedly washing up and having breakfast. After breakfast, Yuan Li called for Wang Er and Wu Kai, who were still resting in the mansion.
They had worked hard all year, and with the end of the year approaching, Yuan Li should have given them a good rest. But things had changed, and Yuan Li had to cancel their holidays. He asked them to lead a team of people to check the houses in the north and south of the city, to see if any houses of the common people had collapsed due to the heavy snow.
Wang Er and Wu Kai accepted the orders without any complaints and left promptly.
The servants in the Chu Mansion also received orders to energetically clear the accumulated snow in the compound. Outside the mansion, Yuan Li dispatched people to clear the snow on the roads.
However, the snowfall was too heavy. The streets that had just been cleared quickly accumulated a thin layer of snow again. If it were in modern times, Yuan Li could simply use industrial salt to melt the snow. But in ancient times, where would they get so much salt? Yuan Li could only ensure the timely removal of the snow to prevent the collapse of houses.
The prisoners assigned to clear the snow were also human, and Yuan Li was afraid they would freeze. So he had them take turns in three shifts to clear the snow, and sufficient charcoal was provided in the prisoner camp.
In the afternoon, Wang Er and Wu Kai returned with their teams and brought good news to Yuan Li—there were currently no collapsed houses due to the heavy snow in Jixian County.
Yuan Li breathed a sigh of relief. “You’ll have to work a few more days. The snow is too heavy, and I’m worried about potential issues.”
Did the Lord mean that the snow would continue to fall?
Wang Er and Wu Kai were puzzled, but they simply saluted and acknowledged the order.
Meanwhile, in their home, Liu Jixin and others learned about the tasks Yuan Li had assigned to Wang Er and Wu Kai.
Guo Mao rushed through the wind and snow to the Liu residence to meet with Liu Jixin and Zheng Rong. The three of them sat in the corridor, sipping tea and watching the snowflakes continuously falling. Various thoughts emerged in their minds.
“Do you think,” Zheng Rong couldn’t hold back any longer, and he cautiously asked, “has the Lord already anticipated this heavy snow and maybe even the possibility of a snow disaster?”
Liu Jixin was taken aback. “If that’s the case, it would explain why the Lord stockpiled grain and built shelters.”
But… was that really possible?
This was not just heavy rain; it was a snow disaster of much greater scale and deeper impact. Could the Lord accurately predict the duration of continuous snowfall and the resulting calamity?
If it were true, what kind of miraculous foresight was this…
Unconsciously, Liu Jixin broke into a cold sweat, feeling a mix of indescribable excitement and worry.
Could such a miracle really happen again? It had only snowed for two days. Would it truly turn into a disaster?
Liu Jixin wanted to believe, but there was still a lingering hesitation in his heart.
This hesitation was not due to a lack of trust in Yuan Li but stemmed from the extraordinary nature of the events that went beyond his understanding.
Guo Mao hadn’t witnessed Yuan Li’s miraculous calculation of rainfall before. Facing the words of Zheng Rong and Liu Jixin, he smiled disdainfully. “You’re exaggerating. How could we mortals predict when it will rain or snow? Not to mention unforeseeable disasters like snowstorms or floods. You’re not from Youzhou, so you probably don’t know. Although winters in Youzhou are cold, there hasn’t been a snow disaster in over a decade or two.”
Zheng Rong said, “But you don’t know. Our Lord really…”
Liu Jixin interrupted him, “Do you think this snowfall can lead to a snow disaster?”
A gust of icy wind blew, and Guo Mao quickly raised his sleeve to shield himself from the wind. After the cold wind passed, he said, “A snow disaster cannot be caused by just two days of snow.”
“In that case, how do you explain the Lord stockpiling grain and building shelters?” Liu Jixin pressed further.
“Naturally, it’s for the chaotic times, preparing to accommodate refugees,” Guo Mao replied. Then he smiled again and said leisurely, “Brother Liu, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about this matter. Our Lord has grown up and ascended to a higher position. He is the governor of Youzhou, the Yan Duke, and the Valiant Martial General. He is no longer the young man without a title that you once knew.”
“He has a firm grasp of the situation and has become more dignified. His actions are more decisive and composed,” Guo Mao looked at Liu Jixin, who was gradually lost in thought, and spoke softly. “You can no longer see the Lord as the same person you met initially.”
Liu Jixin fell into silence for a while.
Guo Mao took a sip of hot tea to warm himself and continued, “You’ve also served under two Lords, so you should know how rare the Lord’s character is. The meals we have in the government office are specially prepared under the Lord’s orders, three meals a day. How many fine wines, meats, and rewards has the Lord given us? Can you count? Whenever something new comes, whether it’s potatoes or cotton clothing, windmills or mandarin duck pots, we all receive a share. I arrived late, but I still didn’t miss out on these things. It’s all the Lord’s care for us. The Lord is someone who respects and cherishes talent, but we shouldn’t overstep our bounds just because of the Lord’s favor.”
Liu Jixin forced a smile. “You have a deeper meaning in your words.”
“I also know that Brother Liu is worried about the Lord, afraid that he will become arbitrary and not listen to our advice,” Guo Mao straightforwardly advised. “But Brother Liu, when it comes to the Lord using his own silver to stockpile grain, even if some of it gets damaged, does it have anything to do with you and me? And regarding the grain stockpiling, do you think it’s right or wrong? As subordinates of the Lord, since this matter does not affect the overall situation, why should we say more?”
Liu Jixin remained silent for a long time. Finally, he sighed. “I must have lost my mind. Brother Guo, you’re right in admonishing me.”
Indeed, Yuan Li was no longer the same as before, the Yuan Li who hadn’t yet received a title, always needing to be concerned and worried about everything.
The current Yuan Li had grown into a reliable and worthy Lord to follow.
Liu Jixin no longer said much, but simply raised his cup in gratitude to Guo Mao.
In the following days, the heavy snow continued unabated. On the third day, some houses in Jixian County had already collapsed under the weight of the snow.
As the New Year approached, Yuan Li’s subordinates became busy, coming to his study daily to discuss how to deal with the snow disaster.
Fortunately, due to Yuan Li’s prior orders to strengthen the houses and the timely removal of snow, the damage caused was not significant.
Seven days later, before dawn.
Liu Jixin was in deep sleep.
Suddenly, urgent footsteps and the sound of horse hooves came from outside, and someone forcefully knocked on Liu Jixin’s door, shouting loudly, “Sir Liu, wake up! The Governor requests your presence!”
Liu Jixin jolted awake, put on his clothes, and walked to the door, opening it slightly. “What happened?”
The person outside was one of Yuan Li’s personal guards, with a grave expression and an urgent tone. “There are reports of disasters in Guangyang, Changping, Jundu, and Ance counties! An avalanche occurred in the northern mountains of Jixian County, burying three villages under snow! The situation is urgent. Please quickly change and go to the Chu Mansion!”
After speaking, the guard quickly left to inform others. Inside the room, Liu Jixin watched his retreating figure and suddenly shivered, feeling a chill surging up from his back, instantly awakening him.
A snow disaster had really happened…
Liu Jixin took a deep breath, his hand trembling as he quickly changed clothes, and hurriedly made his way to the Governor’s Mansion.
The sky was still dark, and the horses slipped several times. The world was covered in a vast expanse of white, and the cleared snow on the roadside was already as high as a person.
The more Liu Jixin looked, the more terrified he became. When he arrived at Yuan Li’s study, he saw Guo Mao, who wore the same terrified expression.
Guo Mao, still in shock, was disheveled, with his clothes in disarray and his hair not properly arranged. He muttered to himself incessantly, “A snow disaster has really occurred. The snow disaster has truly come… How is this possible… Could it be that the Lord actually predicted the snow disaster?”
Even the Emperor did not possess such abilities…
When he thought about the timing of Yuan Li’s grain hoarding, starting as early as August and building shelters, Guo Mao’s scalp tingled, and goosebumps rose on his arms.
It was in August! Four months in advance!
Who would believe such a thing? Who could predict continuous snowfall for seven days four months in advance!
But their Lord managed to do it.
Heaven’s will… This is the person chosen by Heaven…
Guo Mao took a deep breath, looked up with an intense gaze at Liu Jixin, and in that moment, both strategists showed the same mixture of fear and complexity on their faces.
The era of chaos had arrived, and the Northern Zhou Dynasty was about to collapse.
And their Lord… Could it be… Could it be… the true dragon chosen by the heavens?!
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