Lanfen is a patient and methodical person, someone who understands the value of taking their time to ensure things are done properly, but this is due to a surplus of restraint rather than being her natural state. She is greedy, naturally avaricious and covetous;it is against her base nature to deny herself what she wants or to take things slow but these are the qualities that her family values. She was harshly taught to abide by them and she has enough self-control to do so.
Nonetheless Lanfen is one to set her sights high and always aim for the biggest reward possible; normally she is able to let an opportunity pass if pursuing it would put herself at risk, but with the grail at stake and with no-one from her family around to temper her worst aspects that might change.
Besides this, there is a cruel streak running through her that shows itself on occasion. While Lanfen does not actively seek to do harm to others, if doing so is the most efficient way to reach her goal then she will not hesitate; sometimes with a hint of eagerness. There is a mocking note to her personality that she is not always able to hide.Skills:
Lanfen has few skills that are not related to magecraft in some way. She can draw quite well, but not enough to be called an artist, she can cook, but no better than anyone with a passing interest in it. Her life has been dedicated to advancing her talents in magecraft, which has left her somewhat useless at anything else.Abilities:Magecraft
– Although she has never attended the Clocktower, Lanfen is as versed in the basics of General Magecraft as any graduate of the Clocktower would be, having received a comprehensive education from her family. Aside from this she has a strong foundation in formal craft and cursing technique, both of which are geared towards working with her family’s specialty of Gu magecraft.
Gu magecraft utilises the practice of sealing several venomous creatures, such as spiders, scorpions, snakes and so on, in a container and waiting for them to devour each other; the poisons and grudges of those creatures are concentrated into the surviving creature and this creature is then used as a source of power or as a charm to perform various acts. The creature can either be used in its entirety or its poison can be extracted and used instead, depending on how much power is required.
As a type of magecraft that is very well suited to cultivating magical energy into containers, which can then be used by any Magus and not just the one who cultivated it, Gu magecraft has a good synergy with Formal Craft. The magical energy produced through Gu is also inherently negative, meaning it is well suited for use in cursing techniques; Gu practitioners often use their art either to accumulate wealth, usually at the expense of others, or as a means of enacting revenge and are well acquainted with curses as a result.Greater Gu Creature
– The Huang family does not possess a Magic Crest in the traditional sense; they instead pass their knowledge down through more traditional means and instead cultivate power in a different way from Western Mage families.
For the past 600 years the Huang family have invested significant time and resources into cultivating a single Gu creature, one whose poisons have fuelled their magecraft for generations. Its original identity is unknown, as Gu creatures are able to shapeshift, but it often takes on the guise of an unnaturally large snake possessing features of many different species; though whatever its appearance it never looks entirely the same when you next see it. The efficacy of Gu magecraft greatly depends upon how much magical energy has been cultivated and as the focus of the Huang families efforts this particular creature has consumed tens of thousands of poisons and grudges. This creature, rather than a crest, is the backbone of their magecraft.
It has accompanied Lanfen to Sako.Mystic Codes
Concealing Umbrella: A mystic code capable of concealing the magical energies of a person by creating a weak effect not dissimilar to a bounded field. The effect does not reach very far, covering the person holding it and perhaps a couple of others standing in close proximity. The effect is more easily bypassed than that of a bounded field, but it works well at preventing detection from those who are not actively looking to find someone.
Magic Opium Pipe: A pipe used in order to spread poisonous vapours over a wide area. When packed with a form of solidified Gu poison and lit the smoke produced by this pipe can be controlled and directed by the Magus holding the pipe.
A dozen minor Gu creatures: While the Huang family may possess an extraordinarily powerful Gu creature, every Gu practitioner should regularly cultivate a number of their own creatures for their own use so as not to be tied to one location and so as not to be dependent on others. Lanfen has in her possession twelve minor Gu creatures that she keeps with her at all times to act as fuel for her magecraft when her family’s creature is not readily available. They are strong enough as to be able to shapeshift into different animals and Lanfen likes to have them take the form of blood-red butterflies, but they are able to take on more subtle forms if need be.Brief Backstory:
The Huang family has existed in some form or another for over 1000 years, although anti-sorcery purges and changes to the political climate in China mean that they have undergone several transitions during that time. Hailing from Southern China they are a group of Gu practitioners who used their abilities to quickly acquire a vast amount of wealth and power, using curses and poisons to eliminate rivals or prominent individuals and claim their fortunes as their own. However, such growth attracted attention and during one of China’s many purges of Gu practitioners and witches they were discovered and nearly eradicated; their work was destroyed, their members nearly wiped out and their fortune lost. Some of the family managed to survive, by luck or by design, and were able to rebuild from the ground up.
This story repeated itself several times; a swift rise and an even more abrupt fall as Gu practitioners were hunted and eradicated by whoever was in power at the time and all eyes turned towards those families who had no good explanation for where or how they had obtained what they had. All progress lost and all fortune scattered as the Huang’s were left to pick up the pieces and start again. Hard lessons were learnt along the way and a subtler, more careful approach was adopted; a slower accumulation of wealth, less obvious grabs for power and a lot of care given to staying in the shadows and giving people no reason to notice them.
This is the Huang family as Lanfen was born into it; careful, methodical and subdued. They yearned for the wealth and power they once achieved at their height, though they were not lacking in either, but restrained themselves and focused on slowly and steadily cultivating both in a manner that would benefit future generations more than themselves. Always with an eye to the future, the Huang family grows and grows and grows without exposing themselves to the world at large. She understood the reasons for it and absorbed the lessons on caution alongside those about her family’s magecraft, but Lanfen was an ambitious woman who often chafed under the restrictive practices and regularly came into conflict with them.
Over time she proved herself to be both talented and driven, a dangerous combination in this case; while she was able to accumulate large sums of money and even deal with a few troublesome individuals that no one else had managed to with the poisons of her potent Gu creatures, there were always those within the family who felt she did so by taking too many risks. Her plans were too grand and the results too obvious, they said. While some heralded her as the one who would return them to their former glory, when they would no longer need to hide away, others saw Lanfen only a dangerous radical who would bring destruction down on them with her arrogance and ruin everything they had built up.
When the command seal appeared on her hand it was as if the Grail was giving her a chance to answer that question once and for all.
Even being as wary as they were, her family could not resist the allure of the Holy Grail War; not when one of their own was chosen. To enter the war by sending a representative they would be risking exposing themselves after hiding for so long, but what they stood to gain if they claimed the Grail was potentially greater than what they might lose. After all, it’s not like they hadn’t rebuilt themselves several times over in the past and Lanfen was more than willing to make the journey to Japan. The loss of a single Magus was hardly comparable to the purges of the past.
They even consented to allow her to take their treasured creature with her, confident that it
would survive and return even should she not.