The last message sent by Jiang Wenbo made Li Yao jump out of his chair.
"What? The Mountain Sea Sect is going to be bought out?"
He couldn't bear it any longer and contacted Jiang Wenbo through the spiritual crane messenger.
Two lackluster faces appeared in the light beam. It was Jiang Wenbo and Guan Xiong who were discussing the sect affairs.
"Mr. Jiang, Brother Xiong, what's going on?
"Reviews on the 'Flying Sword and Battle Armor' could be called fair, but those on the 'Magical Equipment World' and 'Refiners' Home' were downright outrageous. There are a lot of negative comments in the major forums too. It's unreasonable!
"It's also unreasonable, according to your letters, that many dealers are terminating cooperation with us!
"The Demon Beast Detector has only been set to public for a month. Without major quality flaws, the dealers wouldn't terminate their cooperation even though the sales are not looking good at present.
"Now, you're also saying that the Mountain Sea Sect is going to be bought out by some other sect. What's happening exactly?"
Li Yao posed all his questions fast and straightforward.
Jiang Wenbo looked at Guan Xiong and sighed.
"Li Yao, your guess is correct. We were ambushed. Somebody's had their eyes on the Demon Beast Detector since before it was on sale.
"There's something wrong with the reviews in the three magical equipment magazines; someone has been behind the negative threads on the forums too; according to our secret investigation, many of the dealers terminated the cooperation because of intense pressure from outside.
"However, none of that is our biggest problem.
"The Demon Beast Detector is a finely-made piece of magical equipment. According to the feedback we collected from the real customers, most of them are very satisfied and willing to recommend it to their friends. As long as we persist, the sales will definitely boom with the word of mouth.
"But right now, our biggest problem is"
Jiang Wenbo paused for a moment. Then he said in a self-mocking smile, "It doesn't matter now. Might as well just tell you the truth. It's been spreading all over the Cultivation world anyway. The Mountain Sea Sect's going to have a capital chain rupture!"
Li Yao was shocked.
The capital status of a sect is the secret of all secrets. Once the capital chain rupture is known by the public, the following chain reactions will destroy a sect easily!
The fact that Jiang Wenbo was telling him the top secret meant that it was not a secret anymore.
Jiang Wenbo smiled bitterly.
"A few reviews on the magazines or forums are not fatal; even though many dealers have terminated cooperation, I still have a lot of life-long friends supporting us; also, we can always sell them on the Nexus.
"But right now, it was the crystal camera supplier that set us up.
"Our crystal camera supplier, after providing the first batch of crystal cameras, had been delaying the delivery of goods with all kinds of excuses. When we communicated with them, they guaranteed that everything was alright. The postponement was due to force majeure, specifically, short of raw materials. They promised that they would deliver the rest of the goods before the deadline and compensate for our loss because of the delay.
"There had been a deep trust between us after many years of cooperation. So, we believed what they said.
"Before we received the crystal cameras, we had semi-refined thousands of Demon Beast Detectors and even presold them.
"But, in the end, after postponing for three times, the crystal camera supplier scrapped the contract and terminated the cooperation!
"As a result, we had to recall all our presold orders and double-refunded our customers' advance payment. It had a bad influence on our brand image, too.
"Even worse, the thousands of semi-manufactured Demon Beast Detectors had all been refined based on the parameters of their crystal camera model. It was difficult to find substitution."
Li Yao nodded.
As a refiner, he was well aware that the parameters of crystal cameras refined by different sects varied significantly. In refining, a one-millimeter divergence would be more than enough to stop the component from being universal.
But there was one other thing he didn't understand.
"Mr. Jiang, when you signed the contract with this crystal camera supplier, there must be breach clauses on it, wasn't there? The liquidated damages must be a lot more than your loss, aren't they?"
Jiang Wenbo said, "Li Yao, you're not an admin-type Cultivator. You don't understand.
"Yes, there are breach clauses on the contract. But now, they refuse to acknowledge the contract. So, we'll have to file a lawsuit and sort everything out in a federal court. The trial might take one year or even two years. Of course, we will win the case in the end, but it's going to be three to five years later when we really get the liquidated damages!"
Li Yao thought for a moment. But he was still puzzled.
"But what can they gain from all this? They're losing both their money and their credit. Have they decided to commit suicide while dragging the Mountain Sea Sect down with them?"
Jiang Wenbo shook his head.
"You're wrong. The Mountain Sea Sect will die before them. Two of our loans will be due by the end of next month. We lost a fortune because of this accident. There's no way we can pay the loans now.
"What is even weirder is that the capital status of the Mountain Sea Sect was somehow leaked. The entire Cultivation world now all know of the Mountain Sea Sect is going to go bankrupt at any moment. No one dares to lend any money to us right now."
Li Yao frowned. A moment later, he asked, "Mr. Jiang, can you tell me how much the capital gap is for the Mountain Sea Sect?"
Jiang Wenbo was dazed for a second. Guan Xiong, who'd been sitting beside him with a grave face, said, "With everything going to this far, there's nothing worth hiding now! Even our financial statement has been set to public! Besides, the Demon Beast Detector is our mutual project. Li Yao is our partner. He deserves to know our actual status.
"Now, the entire sect, from top to bottom, is trying everything we can and pulling all kinds of strings. We estimate that there will be a three hundred to five hundred million funding gap next month. If we can't work it out, the Mountain Sea Sect will be doomed when the capital chain rupture occurs!"
Li Yao nodded in agreement.
A three hundred to five hundred million gap might not seem very much for a sect, but the actual situation was a lot worse than it sounded.
A chain is a serial assembly of links that are closely connected to one another.
The Mountain Sea Sect had been in debt due to ill-management for many years. To embark on the Demon Beast Detector project, it borrowed a lot of loans from banks and other sects. The total loans were as high as several billion.
All the investors had been paying close attention to the sales of the Demon Beast Detector as well as the capital status of the Mountain Sea Sect.
If the Demon Beast Detector became an instant hit with amazing sales, the banks and sects definitely wouldn't try to recover their money in a hurry. Instead, they might even lend more money to the Mountain Sea Sect in order to accumulate more interest.
But as it turned out, the Demon Beast Detector was a bummer in the market. With the cash flow of the Mountain Sea Sect running out, there would be chain reactions that may lead to bankruptcy. No bank or sect would agree to lend loans under such circumstances. They would only demand the Mountain Sea Sect pay their debts as soon as possible.
The Mountain Sea Sect would be hopeless if so!
Li Yao had a vague feeling that this whole incident had been a serial trap from the very beginning.
"Somebody must be behind all this. Do you have any theory who might be targeting the Mountain Sea Sect and our Demon Beast Detector?" Li Yao asked coldly. Dangerous brilliance was beaming in his eyes.
Before Jiang Wenbo opened his mouth, Guan Xiong said furiously,
"I don't have any valid evidence. But ten days ago, the Zephyr Guild spoke boldly that it was going to acquire the Mountain Sea Sect and make us a sub-branch of the Zephyr Guild!"
"The Zephyr Guild!"
It immediately occurred to Li Yao that the Zephyr Guild had reached out to him when he just got the patent of the Demon Beast Detector, which wanted to buy out his patent at a very cheap price and was turned down by him.
Jiang Wenbo said, "The Zephyr Guild is a traditional conglomerate in the field of precise magical equipment refining, which has been shifting to the probe magical equipment in recent years. Their advertising expense has been astronomical.
"However, the Zephyr Guild was first known by the watches they refined. Their probe magical equipment is all worn on wrists.
"I bought several of their products before. The design and precision are indeed much better than those of our Demon Beast Detector.
"But I still think the Demon Beast Detector will work better in real battles."
Li Yao squinted and said, "You mean, if the Demon Beast Detector goes popular, the market of the Zephyr Guild's probe magical equipment might shrink and cause them great losses?"
Jiang Wenbo added, "Also, the foul moves that we've been suffering from recently are exactly the style of the 'shark'."
Li Yao didn't know the name, "Who is this 'shark'?"
"He is the nickname of the young master of the Zephyr Guild, Qiu Guanyu, a talented admin-type Cultivator. Although he's only 29 years old, he has led several mergers and helped the Zephyr Guild swallow many sects that are of smaller size."
Jiang Wenbo continued, "Qiu Guanyu is both meticulous and merciless. He is best known for his style of killing without spilling blood. If he wants to take over a sect, he will try everything he can to suffocate the sect until it has no choice but to be devoured by the Zephyr Guild, with furs, skins, bones, and all!
"In the seven years since he started his career, he has taken over eleven sects in such way. Every year, one or two sects will become his new sacrifice. Therefore, he has been nicknamed the 'shark'!"
"So, this is the case. I understand it now."
Li Yao asked again, "Mr. Jiang, Brother Xiong, what are the opinions inside the Mountain Sea Sect about the takeover?"
"Of course we hate it!"
Guan Xiong shouted, "If it were months ago when the Mountain Sea Sect was in desperation, we might've agreed to their terms if the Zephyr Guild wanted to buy us out, however unwillingly.
"But right now, with such an excellent product, the Demon Beast Detector, when we're ready for something big, this sleazy shark jumped on us and wanted us to bear the insult without complaints? Whoever wants to go there can go, but I definitely won't! To think that I might call the shark 'master' one day in the future is enough to kill me!
"Anyways, if the Mountain Sea Sect is to be taken over, I'll just resign and be a free Cultivator!"
Jiang Wenbo said, "Few in the Mountain Sea Sect are looking forward to the merger. But is there anything we can do about it?"
Li Yao didn't give an answer. He observed, "The bottom line is, if you have three to five billion by the end of next month, you'll be able to survive the trouble temporarily, correct?"
Jiang Wenbo nodded. Then his eyes grew wide as he shouted, failing to control his voice,
"Li Yao, what do you want?"
Pausing after each word, Li Yao said, "I want to go to the Zephyr Guild and meet this so-called shark."
Jiang Wenbo blurted out, "You know nothing about business and you are definitely no match for the shark. What's more, even if we can fix the loan issue temporarily, there are still bigger capital gaps in the future if the sales of the Demon Beast Detector remain at the current level. This will be a bottomless hole. There's no need to jump into it! Besides, it is just our speculation. We don't our any solid evidence to pin the whole scheme on the Zephyr Guild!"
"You'll figure out how to solve the funding problem later! As long as Mr. Jiang, Brother Xiong and the rest of the Mountain Sea Sect stick together until the end, there will definitely be a way out! As for evidence"
Li Yao smiled. His sharp teeth were glaring as he said, "Do you think the vulture needs 'solid evidence' to launch a counterattack when it is offended?"