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Chapter 379: The Arrival of Ice and Fire, Nationwide Construction of Shelters!
On the morning of the second day, Lin Beifan submitted a memorial to the Empress.
“In response to Your Majesty, since the beginning of this year, snowfall has come early, and the weather has turned extremely cold. It’s highly unusual weather! We should prepare early to prevent the possible occurrence of icy disasters!”
The Empress nodded, “You speak the truth, Prime Minister. I have also noticed that this year’s winter feels colder than usual. Reports from various regions indicate even harsher conditions affecting the livelihoods of our people. Prime Minister, what suggestions do you have to share with us?”
Lin Beifan promptly replied, “My suggestion is to construct shelters in various regions and provide centralized heating to help the people endure this severe cold.”
The Minister of Finance, Qian Yuanshen, furrowed his brow and said, “Is this not a laborious and costly endeavor, Prime Minister? Building shelters in every region and centralizing heating will require a significant amount of manpower and resources. The winters are indeed cold this year, but it seems to me that enduring it a bit should suffice, as we’ve done in previous years.”
Lin Beifan shook his head slightly, “It’s not at all excessive, but rather, it’s highly necessary! We must understand that severe cold weather can be deadly. Every year, many people die from the cold during winter. If we were to face an ice disaster that occurs once in a decade, the casualties could reach millions, if not tens of millions!”
“We have only recently achieved unity in Great Wu, and the livelihoods of our people are already struggling. Now that we are focusing on production, we require a significant population. If we don’t prepare for this winter and the people suffer heavy losses, it could undermine the foundation of our dynasty!”
The Empress nodded in agreement, fully endorsing Lin Beifan’s words. Great Wu had just begun to prosper, and its people couldn’t afford setbacks. Therefore, it was imperative to be proactive and prepared. At this moment, Lin Beifan declared loudly, “I’ve observed the stars at night, and it is possible that we may encounter a once-in-a-century ice disaster!”
The Empress’s face changed, as did those of the courtiers. A once-in-a-century ice disaster was extremely terrifying! According to historical records, each occurrence of such a disaster had severe consequences, resulting in tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of deaths. The toll was too great, leading to a decline in national strength and political instability. Many smaller countries couldn’t withstand such disasters and were wiped out.
The Empress urgently asked, “Prime Minister, are you certain of what you’re saying?” Lin Beifan declared emphatically, “I stake my life on it. I would never speak falsely.”
The expressions of everyone in the room turned grave. They all knew that Lin Beifan possessed the ability to observe celestial phenomena. When the locust plague occurred, he accurately predicted the weather changes, allowing them to prepare and manage the crisis effortlessly.
Moreover, the Empress was well aware that Lin Beifan had the power to control the weather, a capability akin to that of a divine being.
He said there would be an ice disaster, so there will indeed be one. The Empress declared firmly, “Esteemed ministers, I trust Prime Minister Lin absolutely. In our previous court resolutions, Minister Lin has always provided well-thought-out advice, and he has never been wrong. I believe this time will be no different.”
“Moreover, since the start of this year, the weather has indeed been unusually cold. We should make extra preparations to prevent any potential calamities. Otherwise, when disaster strikes, it will be too late for us to save the situation.”
“While it may require significant manpower and resources, our court can fully bear the cost!” Lin Beifan responded, “Your Majesty, your wisdom shines brightly.”
All the courtiers exchanged glances, and they finally bowed respectfully, endorsing this course of action. The Empress asked, “Prime Minister Lin, what are the specifics of your plan?”
Lin Beifan immediately replied, “We mustn’t delay. We should start the operation now! Transport cement to various government offices immediately and construct multiple shelters in suitable locations to accommodate refugees. Provide centralized heating to help everyone endure the harsh winter. Otherwise, when the ice disaster arrives and rivers freeze, it will be too late.”
The Empress exclaimed, “Excellent! This matter is now entrusted entirely to the Prime Minister. Everyone else must give their full support! Anyone who lags behind, neglects their duties, or shows reluctance to work will face severe consequences!”
The courtiers shuddered, replying, “Yes, Your Majesty!” Under the leadership of Lin Beifan, the courtiers quickly mobilized.
Cement factories brought out all their stocks and swiftly transported them to major cities through a network of rivers. Other supplies such as coal, firewood, warm clothing, and blankets were also distributed to various regions.
Upon receiving the royal decree, government offices immediately selected shelter locations in safe areas and began constructing the shelters.
This sudden and significant action by the court left the common people bewildered. They wondered, “What is the court trying to do?”
“According to the official announcements, due to the upcoming exceptionally cold winter, there was a high likelihood of experiencing an ice disaster that comes once in a decade. Therefore, the court had proactively constructed shelters.”
“Is it really necessary to have shelters for just a cold winter? Haven’t we managed in previous years without them?”
“This time is different! This time, we might face an ice disaster, so the court is taking preventive measures by building shelters and providing centralized heating to help us survive the winter.”
“I don’t think it’s necessary. The court is being overly cautious!”
Many common people were skeptical. They believed the court was exaggerating and that there was no real need for such preparations. After all, they had been through many cold winters without shelters.
This situation highlighted the short-sightedness of the common people. Their lives spanned only a few decades, and they had experienced very few, if any, ice disasters. Unlike the court, which had detailed records and knew the severity of the situation.
This situation quickly caught the attention of neighboring countries as well.
Although they showed some level of concern, they didn’t pay much attention to it. Because there was currently no concrete evidence to suggest that there would be icy weather. Even if there were ice-related challenges, they believed they had sufficient measures in place, and there was no need to build shelters, which they considered a waste of resources.
“Great Wu is just making a fuss over nothing. No need to pay it any mind!”
“Exactly! Couldn’t they use the money for something else? Why waste it on these pointless endeavors?”
“I’m looking forward to seeing them make a fool of themselves, haha!”
Regardless of how the outside world perceived it, Lin Beifan strictly implemented his plan, considering it a top priority for the current winter.
He also ordered the military and local officials across the regions to take action collectively to prepare for the ice-related challenges. In front of him were reports from various regions:
– Huazhou Prefecture had already constructed 18 shelters capable of accommodating 900 people. They had also repurposed abandoned buildings into 22 shelters, providing space for 1,200 people. In total, they could shelter 2,100 people.
– Panzhou Prefecture had completed 12 shelters and could house 700 people. They had repurposed abandoned buildings into an additional 12 shelters, providing space for 600 people. In total, they could shelter 1,300 people.
– Huozhou Prefecture had constructed 20 shelters for 1,000 people and had repurposed abandoned buildings into 6 additional shelters for 300 people. In total, they could shelter 1,300 people.
Every region was diligently working on construction.
At this moment, Li Shi Shi and Mo Rushuang entered with bowls of ginseng tea.
“Husband, it’s getting late. It’s time to rest.”
“Yes, after finishing this ginseng tea, you should rest. Don’t risk your health; the court cannot afford to be without you.”
Lin Beifan sighed, “There isn’t much time now. A once-in-a-century ice disaster is looming, and I hope to have enough shelters in place for the people before it arrives so they can weather the storm together.”
“Husband, is this ice disaster really going to be so terrifying?” Li Shi Shi asked, worried.
“It’s more severe than you can imagine,” Lin Beifan said with a somber expression. “This ice disaster will sweep across the land. If we can’t get through it, it might result in tens of thousands of deaths, countless families ruined.”
“Ah? That serious?” both women exclaimed.
“So, I’ve ordered the construction of shelters in various regions and centralized heating. This way, we can minimize the loss of life. Otherwise, if we can’t get through this winter, Great Wu might suffer a decline in national strength and face unrest,” Lin Beifan explained.
“How’s the construction progress now?” Mo Rushuang asked.
Lin Beifan lowered his head to look at the documents. “According to the reports from various regions, the shelters that have been built and repurposed can currently accommodate up to 3 million people, but it’s still far from enough.”
“Young Master, you’re working so hard,” Mo Rushuang remarked.
“In my position, I must plan accordingly. Since I have the opportunity to do so, I will give it my all,” Lin Beifan replied.
Then, Lin Beifan took a few sips of ginseng tea, planning to close his eyes for a brief rest before continuing his work.
Just at that moment, a pair of small hands began to gently massage his temples, a bit clumsily.
Lin Beifan opened his eyes. “Little Princess, you’re here again?”
“Here again? This is my home!” The Little Princess stated confidently. “I’ve told you, you belong to me, and this place is naturally my home too.”
Lin Beifan was quite speechless. Ever since that day, the Little Princess had become quite proactive, not giving him any chance to react. The once innocent and adorable Little Princess had learned some mischievous tricks.
“This is a massage technique I just learned. How does it feel? Comfortable?” The Little Princess asked proudly.
Lin Beifan nodded immediately. “Very comfortable. Little Princess, you’re very skilled.”
The Little Princess was very pleased. “Of course, I learned it specifically from Jade Sister! She said I’ve already mastered it!”
“Alright, Little Princess, go ahead with your next move. I’ll close my eyes and enjoy it,” Lin Beifan said with a smile.
“Great! It’s not hard at all!” The Little Princess, with her innocent and mischievous eyes, looked at Lin Beifan who had closed his eyes without resistance, gave a satisfied smile, and then hugged Lin Beifan’s head, moving in closer. A few minutes later, the blushing Little Princess slipped away.
“Lin Beifan, it’s getting late. I’ll go to my room and rest now. I’ll come to see you again tomorrow! Hehe…” Lin Beifan let out an exasperated cry, “You little rogue! Get out!”
As time passed, the weather grew colder. Over time, a powerful cold air mass swept in from the north. Overnight, the landscape transformed dramatically, with everything turning white as far as the eye could see.