"Ah, Gao Sheng, tell us about your views!" Diwu Qing Rou smiled.
"Brother Cheng was just talking about the overall layout. I am thinking about the feeling in each word and the way they are written!" Gao Sheng frowned as he looked at the paper and said, "In my humble opinion, these words are mechanical and incoherent."
"Let's look at the words 'many years', these two words were written with one feeling. However, compared to the two words 'painstaking efforts', they are not the same. And the word 'effort' in 'painstaking effort' seems to have a weaker brushstroke even though the two would have been written at the same time... This is not normal at all. Plus, the words 'try my best', while written in one go, seems very dry. They lack a certain solemn air that should be there."
"If this was indeed written by Number One, then, at the moment these words were written, Number One should have been ready to fight to the death. We all know that when a person falls into this state, his thoughts and feelings would definitely be shown in his brushstrokes. And with these thoughts, there should be Number One's arrogance as well. This note should show a mentality that he would 'rather be crushed jade than a piece of intact tile'. Yet, these words do not show any trace of such mentality; on the contrary, they are very bland!"
Gao Sheng continued, "Therefore, prime minister, from this note, I deduced that Number One probably ran into trouble. Perhaps he has already fallen in the hands of King of Hell Chu, and this note is a trap!"
"Oh?" Diwu Qing Rou's eyes revealed a trace of a smile, "If this is a trap, then how are they hoping to trap us? What does that King of Hell Chu want to achieve?"
"If we were fooled by this note, then we would come to the conclusion that Number One is still safe, and still in power as before." Gao Sheng glanced at Han Bu Chu; his eyes were full of mockery, as if he was having a discussion with a fool.
Han Bu Chu snorted and turned away.
"If we hold on to this belief and maintain contact with Number One, then that King of Hell Chu would just have to sit and wait to catch all of our people. While we can trust that Number One will never talk, we can't say the same for other people. Once King of Hell Chu manages to pry open their mouths, any little tidbit of information could lead the whole Iron Cloud spy network under Number One's control to be uprooted! That would be extremely detrimental!"
"This is King of Hell Chu's sinister trap!"
"Really? Then, in your opinion... is Number One still alive?" Diwu Qing Rou seemed partly interested in this discussion.
"It is not certain! But the probability of him still living is high!" Gao Sheng thought for a long while, and finally answered with uncertainty.
"Why?" Diwu Qing Rou looked at him.
"If Number One falls into King of Hell Chu's hands then he would absolutely not reveal anything." Gao Sheng mused, "But with such an important player, the enemies would naturally not release him, and killing him would be too much of a waste. If I am King of Hell Chu... I would lock him up; if he does not speak after one day, then two days, three days... I would even hold him a few months to see if I can make him talk."
Gao Sheng continued, "According to my guess, Number One is still alive. Of course, he is not in good condition. He has been tortured; that's for sure!"
Han Bu Chu snapped back, "Gao Sheng, there are some issues with your logic! You said that there was the possibility he had fallen into the hands of the enemy; that's a possibility in any case. But you went on to talk about torture as if he has indeed fallen into King of Hell Chu's hands. You're being too presumptuous!"
Gao Sheng looked him disdainfully, and mockingly smiled without bothering to reply.
Han Bu Chu boiled with anger. He wanted to retort, but Cheng Yun He pinched his thigh, making him seethe in pain. Diwu Qing Rou waved his arm, signaling them to stop the discussion.
"What is the possibility that Number One is already dead?" Diwu Qing Rou asked.
"This possibility... is very small." Gao Sheng hesitated then replied, "No matter how they torture him, Number One would not say anything. Someone like this, you can't depend on getting a lucky break through torture. In other words, his being alive is just for torture's sake..."
"If King of Hell Chu is righteous, he would be likely to give Number One a merciful end. Since he is not stupid, he would know that keeping Number One alive is useless!" Gao Sheng continued, "However, if he is not righteous, Number One is definitely being kept alive just to be tortured!"
Gao Sheng thought for a moment then said, "According to the information we gathered on King of Hell Chu, his way of doing things in Iron Cloud and his temper, I believe that he would use any means to achieve his goals. He is no honorable hero. Moreover, he has been able to trace everything back to its roots given just one piece of information; so Number One is an important card in his hand. Therefore he would probably continue using unscrupulous means and brutal methods in an attempt to pry open Number One's mouth. He absolutely would not kill Number One!"
Diwu Qing Rou became sullen as he slowly nodded his head.
Gao Sheng had talked a lot and his mouth was becoming a little dry. He picked up the tea cup in front of him and drank the whole thing in one gulp.
"If the situation is really as Brother Gao said, then King of Hell Chu already has Number One in his hands!" Cheng Yun He asked, "Do we rescue him or not?"
"Rescue or not?" These words raised Gao Sheng's interest. The three tacticians looked at each other; each one filled with apprehension.
"Brother Cheng, you're overstepping your boundary!" Gao Sheng replied, "Rescue or not, the prime minister will have his own plans! This has great implications, how could you ask for an immediate answer?"
The positions of the three were like that of Number One. If Diwu Qing Rou chose to rescue Number One, then these three would feel a little warmth in their hearts.
Because that would imply that if any of these three ever fell into a similar situation, Diwu Qing Rou would surely rescue them as well.
If he decided on not rescuing, these three would have an explanation for that as well. Number One was far away in Iron Cloud, and the security would be strict. Rescuing an important figure from prison was as difficult as climbing to heaven.
To rescue Number One, they would need to mobilize a great force. Moreover, if Number One was still alive, he would be full of injuries and have limited mobility. One little slip up and the rescue force would be decimated.
There were reasons for rescuing. There were reasons for not rescuing as well. But in their minds, these two were not the same!
Diwu Qing Rou looked out the window with a calm countenance. With his hands clasped behind his back, he seemed extremely relaxed.
Gao Sheng's words were what he currently thought about. The issue of rescue the three brought up was something Diwu Qing Rou was still thinking about. But compared to them, he thought one layer deeper. Is this another trap that King of Hell Chu has set up?
Is King of Hell Chu using Number One as bait and hanging a hook on top of my head?
To rescue Number One, he would have plan every detail very carefully. Plus, the rescuers would have to be powerful. If he was to lose these people, it would be a great loss on his part.
"Rescue... or not?" For the first time in his life, Diwu Qing Rou felt that there was something he could not reach a decision on. Rescuing would be risky; not rescuing would be cold-hearted.
Diwu Qing Rou knew well that if he decided not to rescue Number One, these three would understand. At most, they would just feel slightly disappointed.
However, he could not belittle this slight disappointment. At critical moments, this could sway people's hearts. Moreover, if he chose to not rescue him, would Number One be disappointed?
If he made Number One feel disappointed then... there was the matter of the entire spy network in Iron Cloud under Number One's control!
"Rescue! We must rescue him!" Diwu Qing Rou finally decided even though his heart was currently bitter. If this is a strategy by King of Hell Chu, then I have lost one round in this long distance battle.
...Because I could not avoid going with my opponent's plan.
'I want you to come to the rescue! You have to come even if you don't want to!'
This was a first in Diwu Qing Rou's life. It had always been the case that he would lead others by the nose. Even the greatest general on the continent, Tie Long Cheng, was led by him for ten years! A battle with millions of soldiers, all controlled single-handedly by Diwu Qing Rou!
'If I want you to go there, you must go there! If I want a hundred thousand of your people dead; fifty thousand would not be acceptable. Whatever I want, you must cooperate with me! Even if I am your enemy, even if you hate me to the bones, you still have to cooperate. If not, you and your nation will end.'
'I never threatened you, but you have no other choice but to obey my commands, and obediently let me lead you!'
With one hand, he controlled the people; with the other, he controlled two nations; and these were two nations at war. He made it so others would have nowhere to turn but follow his path even if they were angry and full of hatred! Not following was not an option!
This was a kind of pleasure! Diwu Qing Rou greatly enjoyed this pleasure!
However, at this moment, he finally had to give someone else this pleasure.
"Prime minister!" The three people simultaneously intervened. While they naturally hoped that Diwu Qing Rou would come to such a decision, they also knew well how risky such an action would be!
"Even knowing that this is King of Hell Chu's trap, we still have to rescue him!" Once Diwu Qing Rou had made a decision, it could not be changed. He looked at the three and replied, "Not only Number One, if any of you fall into a situation like that... I would do the same..."
All three were touched; they felt ashamed with their previous thoughts.
"Trap..." The three responded, "You are saying this is King of Hell Chu's trap?"
"Yes! This is a trap! That extraordinary King of Hell Chu is my archenemy!" Diwu Qing Rou's eyes glimmered with happiness, "It's unimaginable that on my first confrontation with him, I have taken a loss!"
The three paled in uneasiness.
To be considered Diwu Qing Rou's archenemy was a great honor! To be able to humble Diwu Qing Rou was inconceivable.
[TLN: I just wanted to say that lately pedo-Chu is kind of cringy for me >_<. Ah, also the handwriting analysis thing, while it seems kind of crazy, is actually possible. I'm totally not an expert, but... Try writing in cursive with watercolor. Things like pauses, change in tempo, thickness of the ink... you might be able to see it.]