Chapter 350

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Chapter 350: This is truly the supreme art of war!

Zhao Hai exclaimed, “Kuo’er, this is your good fortune! You must study diligently, really dedicate yourself to learning. Once you’ve mastered it, you can pass it on to your uncle; your uncle wants to learn it too!”

Zhao Kuo hesitated, saying, “Uncle, this matter must receive the consent of Lord Prime Minister! Some things require approval, and without his consent, I can’t teach them to others.”

“Yes! You’re absolutely right, that’s how it should be! Never offend Lord Prime Minister!” Zhao Hai quickly nodded.

“Thank you for understanding, Uncle!” Zhao Kuo smiled and bowed.

Zhao Hai looked at the transformed Zhao Kuo with delight and said, “Kuo’er, your return this time shows how much you’ve matured!”

Zhao Kuo lowered his head and remorsefully said, “I’m sorry, Uncle. It was my incompetence that brought trouble to the Zhao family in the past. Now, I only hope to start anew, work hard from the beginning, and make the Zhao family rise again!”

“Very well! With this determination, your uncle is extremely pleased! Go ahead confidently, knowing that your uncle will always support you,” Zhao Hai declared loudly.

“Thank you, Uncle!” Zhao Kuo’s eyes welled up with tears.

After spending about three days, Zhao Kuo finally integrated Lin Beifan’s military philosophy and carefully reviewed the newly learned art of war.

Upon reviewing, he realized how shallow and ignorant he had been.

As a result, he visited Lin Mansion three times to seek guidance from Lin Beifan.

“You’re eager to learn, and I have some free time. Let me teach you. How much you can learn depends on your aptitude!” Lin Beifan smiled.

Zhao Kuo joyfully responded, “Thank you, Lord Prime Minister! However, before I delve into studying military strategy, there’s something I need to ask for your approval on.”

“Go ahead, what is it?” Lin Beifan smiled.

“While summarizing your military strategy in my study at home, my uncle Zhao Hai happened to see it. He was amazed and wants to learn your art of war as well. May I seek your permission?”

After saying this, Zhao Kuo nervously looked at Lin Beifan.

Without showing any impatience, Lin Beifan nonchalantly replied, “Of course, you can teach it freely to anyone. It doesn’t matter who learns it.”

Zhao Kuo was astonished, “Lord Prime Minister, this is a sacred art of war, a divine strategy for the stability of the nation. How can we spread it so openly? What if enemies learn from it? Wouldn’t that be…”

Lin Beifan shook his head and smiled, “Why not? Look around, there are millions of scholars in the world. They all study the Four Books and Five Classics. Why can some achieve the highest ranks while others struggle even to pass the exams?”

Zhao Kuo pondered this.

“Furthermore, consider the millions of martial practitioners. Why do some make rapid progress with the same martial techniques while others struggle to even grasp the basics?”

Zhao Kuo nodded slightly.

“Therefore, it’s about the individual, not just the strategy! Strategies are static, individuals are dynamic. Only through active learning and application can a strategy truly be effective! If learned but not applied, how is this strategy different from any other? If not learned or used, how does it differ from toilet paper?”

Zhao Kuo nodded again and respectfully said, “What Lord Prime Minister says is absolutely true. I have learned from your wisdom!”

“Alright, what aspect of strategy do you wish to study?” Lin Beifan asked casually.

“Lord Prime Minister once mentioned that the highest form of warfare is to conquer without fighting, to bend others’ armies, kings, and nations without engaging in battle. I wholeheartedly agree with this, so I wish to study such a strategy!” Zhao Kuo enthusiastically declared.

Ever since he learned about Lin Beifan’s military philosophy, he had wanted to study this ultimate strategy.

To be invincible without deploying troops, making enemies surrender without a fight!

The mere thought of it excited him to the point of being unable to contain himself, tossing and turning!

Lin Beifan chuckled, “This is no small challenge, you know!”

Zhao Kuo exclaimed loudly, “I beg Lord Prime Minister’s indulgence!”

Lin Beifan continued, “Let me ask you, if our forces were equal in a conflict, would you surrender?”

Zhao Kuo shook his head firmly, “Absolutely not!”

Lin Beifan asked again, “If our forces were twice the size of yours, would you surrender?”

Zhao Kuo shook his head again, saying, “Still no! Even though you have more soldiers, victory is not impossible for the skilled.”

Lin Beifan questioned, “If our forces were five times larger, would you surrender?”

Zhao Kuo hesitated briefly, then responded, “I would still resist, despite the low chance of winning, and fight to the last!”

Lin Beifan inquired, “What about if our forces were ten times larger? Would you surrender?”

“Well…” Zhao Kuo hesitated for a while, “With a difference of tenfold, such a massive gap in numbers almost eliminates any possibility of victory! However, I would still fight desperately, seeking a glimmer of hope.”

Lin Beifan continued, “And if our forces were twenty times larger? Or even thirty times?”

“At that point, victory would be practically impossible, but I would still not surrender! Even if I had to exhaust every last soldier and fight to the end, even if it meant dying in the process. Dying on the battlefield would be an honorable fate for us warriors!” Zhao Kuo’s determination was unwavering, and he had always held this conviction.

When facing the terrifying army of martial artists led by the Prince of Northern Hebei, he had never considered fleeing. Instead, he was captured by an opponent’s grandmaster while protecting retreating soldiers.

At this point, Lin Beifan smiled, “You indeed would not surrender. However, if your sovereign orders you to surrender, would you still resist?”

“Well…” Zhao Kuo’s eyes widened, panic crossing his face.

“Let me ask you again: If your country behind you commands you to surrender, would you comply or resist?”

Zhao Kuo’s defenses started to break, “How is that even possible?”

“Why wouldn’t it be possible?” Lin Beifan chuckled, “For instance, I’ve already led my troops into your country, captured your sovereign, and threaten you to surrender or retreat. Would you comply?”

“If I don’t surrender, I’d be defying the royal command, betraying the king, and opposing justice. The court wouldn’t tolerate it, and the entire nation would not spare me! As for my soldiers behind me, would they follow my orders or ours?”

Zhao Kuo’s face broke into a cold sweat.

“For instance, let’s say our forces have invaded your territory, and we have the power to annihilate your country and people at any moment. We threaten you to surrender or retreat. Will you comply?”

“If I don’t surrender, you’ll annihilate the country and the people! If the nation you’re protecting and its citizens are gone, what’s the point of leading a resistance with a remnant force? Will the soldiers behind you risk their lives alongside their loved ones?”

“I… I…” Zhao Kuo was drenched in sweat.
Lin Beifan shouted loudly, “Zhao Kuo, what are you hesitating for? Are you willing to bury the entire country with your stubbornness?”

Zhao Kuo stepped back in fright, his face turning pale.

“Zhao Kuo, you should now understand the essence of the strategy to conquer without fighting, right?”

Zhao Kuo stammered, “A strong nation and powerful army.”

“…Exactly, it’s a strong nation and powerful army. That’s the essence of the strategy to conquer without fighting, and it’s also the highest level of medicine!” Lin Beifan burst into laughter. “As long as your nation and your troops become powerful enough to make the enemy’s king fearful and the enemy’s citizens dread, surrender will naturally follow. They wouldn’t dare to fight at all!”

“Because if they did, your own soldiers would undoubtedly be slaughtered, your king would certainly be captured by the enemy, and your citizens would die beneath the enemy’s iron hooves! National annihilation and extermination are right before your eyes! The concept applies to bending other kings without battle and bending other countries without fighting as well!”

Zhao Kuo asked excitedly, “But Lord Prime Minister, how can we achieve this?”

“Of course, the way to achieve this is to rapidly strengthen your own nation! Elevating the strength of the military forces, that’s a strategy! Increasing the population of the nation, that’s a strategy! Boosting food production, that’s a strategy! Raising the income of the citizens, that’s a strategy! All of these, as long as they benefit the country, are strategies!”

Zhao Kuo expressed despair, saying, “But this is really difficult!”

“Indeed, it’s extremely challenging, but you can accumulate small achievements over time, and small drops can gather into a sphere! For example, even though we can’t double the strength of our military in a short time, we can enhance training to improve it by one or two tenths! The population of the nation can’t increase by millions in a short time, but by encouraging childbirth, adding one or two million is achievable…”

“In such ways, streams will naturally converge into rivers, rivers into oceans, and ultimately, countless rivers will flow into the vast sea of Wangyang! Our nation will undoubtedly be powerful, renowned throughout the world, and all will submit!”

Lin Beifan patted Zhao Kuo’s shoulder. “Kid, if you don’t plan for the world, how can you plan for a nation? If you don’t plan for a nation, how can you plan for an army? If you confine yourself to victory on just a small battlefield, you’ll never become a master of strategy, let alone a military god!”

At this moment, Lin Beifan’s words broadened Zhao Kuo’s horizons, and everything became clear! The ultimate art of war is to make the nation strong and the military mighty! Any method that increases the strength of the nation is a good strategy! You must plan for the nation!

To plan for an army, to plan for a nation, you must plan for the world! Only by looking beyond the limited battlefield victories can you become a master of strategy and a deity in the military!

Zhao Kuo bowed solemnly, “Thank you for your guidance, Prime Minister. I’ve learned a great deal!”

“Now, I want to test your knowledge, to see how much you’ve learned and understood.”

Zhao Kuo responded earnestly, “Please enlighten me, Prime Minister.”

“If we were to face the powerful Great Yan Empire on equal terms, how could we conquer without fighting?”

Without hesitation, Zhao Kuo replied, “Naturally, we would first enhance our military strength through various methods, increase our population, and boost our national food production… Anything that enhances our national power, we should do our best to accomplish!”

“Meanwhile, we would also weaken Great Yan Empire’s national power through various means! Diminish the strength of their military, reduce the food income of their citizens!” Zhao Kuo continued, “By doing so over time, our Great Wu will become stronger and Great Yan Empire will weaken further! Eventually, with a significant gap in national strength, we will undoubtedly conquer without fighting, and they will undoubtedly be defeated without fighting!”

Lin Beifan nodded approvingly, “Well taught, it seems you truly understand! Remember, using force is the last resort!”

Zhao Kuo exclaimed loudly, “Thank you for your guidance, Prime Minister! Now, I am more convinced than ever that you are the god of strategy and the deity of military wisdom!”

“Why do you say that?” Lin Beifan was intrigued.

“For your insights into the world of warfare!” Zhao Kuo expressed his admiration.

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