Huātáo is a dazzling, powdery detriment originating from the Yang-Tzu Isles, created specifically by the Ch'ien-Ji in defense against their Wulong aggressors. When thrown or blown from the hand, the short-lasting dust will momentarily disorient those that inhale it—bombarding their mind with the dizzying effects of Dulofall and irritating the eyes and mouth. Once settled, Huātáo leaves painful rashes upon the skin and a dull headache which can last for hours afterwards, providing the target with a irritating reminder of an alchemist's arsenal.
Huātáo was first created by Eastern alchemist Zua Quan circa 182 AC, as an aid towards the Ch'ien-Ji’s continued warfare against the Wulong. While the powder remained in its early stages on the Yang-Tzu Isles for some time, it was slowly introduced as a staple of the Ch'ien-Ji's foot soldier's arsenal. The light weight and general safety of the inert substance provided individuals a reliable means of escape when presented with a tricky situation.
After releasing the initial recipe of Huātáo, Zua Quan was brought into conflict under his father’s will and served for many years, before eventually leaving to refine his concoction after the Wulong found a way to negate it's irritating effects by using fur cloaks. Zua took what he’d experienced from his time in war, and with a new sense of patriotism sought a means to increase the effectiveness of his alchemical detriments. He soon researched the Dulofall, a fungal parasite native to Daendroc with the ability (in low doses) to make the target dizzy and disoriented. Getting a hold of a sample, Zua combined it with various other ingredients and slowly worked towards creating a powder that could not only irritate, but daze aggressors. Once fully refined, he posed the idea for use in Ch'ien-Ji conflict against the[Wulong, and it was cautiously accepted.
In the present day, Huātáo still finds the majority of it's use among the foot soldiers of the Yang-Tzu Isles; however, it has unfortunately fallen out of popularity after the inclusion of Dulofall brought with it health concerns about the substance. The recipe has since traveled Aloria through word of mouth, and while it is often pushed aside in favor of more dangerous concoctions, Huātáo finds its niche among the sly and criminal who wish to draw as least attention to themselves as possible.
To begin, a flower of any variety must be exposed to a small clump of Dulofall infected substance. The inclusion of such a deadly fungus leaves this powder’s creation exclusively to those of higher alchemical skills, or those with a natural tolerance to the substance. This plant’s petals are then to be removed to reveal its pollen and, while the flora is on the edge of its life, the pollen scraped off with a thin, small knife. This is then ground into a fine powder. The alchemist should ensure they cover their mouth at this point, to avoid being exposed to the dangerous properties of the fungus. Galena is is poured into a separate bowl and crushed to an equally fine dust with an implement that will not pick up the powder—often chopsticks. The sand involved can be left pure, and the type (and therefore color) chosen is mainly cosmetic, but a lighter tone is usually required as to not block the light for the Galena to reflect.
Once every prior step is complete, each component must be slowly and gently added to a bowl at equal rates and times. Should any powder be carelessly poured, the airy dust created will spew into the air and affect the alchemist. After the mix has been cautiously stirred, folded and sprinkled with flecks of Fireweed to irritate the lungs, it is ready for use.
The powder can be thrown, blown from the palm, or expelled in any way that would spread the dust to a mist.
The target of Huātáo is first exposed to the abundant sand within the powder, which stings the target’s eyes and may settle briefly on their clothing. With this sand comes a sudden biting and irritable heat that effects both skin and mutant membranes of the individual, causing pain and itching. Past this, the effect of the Dulofall fungus sends the target’s head spinning, leaving them dizzy and momentarily disorientated. This sudden stir will rise to a sharp headache almost instantly, which is worsened by the flickering light reflected from the Galena. Once the chemical falls and fades, a matter of seconds after being thrown, the target will be left with an irritating rash wherever the dust fell and a dull headache which lasts a couple of hours. The initial effect of Huātáo scales with the amount of powder the target(s) is exposed to.
More specific to use by the Ch'ien-Ji, this dust allows their soldiers to daze the Wulong they attack, adding to their main advantage - surprise. If this strength is voided, the powder is also useful in its effectiveness to disengage from a fight and allow them to take to a distance (or hide) where an advantage could form again.
In its powder form, Huātáo’s main color is that of a rock-red or diluted honey due to the high concentration of sand within. This base color is tinted depending on the pollen color used, usually a pale yellow, and is interspersed little specks of silver Galena. The inclusion of this mineral brings with it a sparkle that can be seen in natural daylight, and so Huātáo is often kept in concealed pouches to keep it out of prying eyes. The spicy scent of Fireweed combined with the ashiness of Dulofall gives the powder a strong and headache-inducing odor.
When thrown, Huātáo disperses into a light and grainy dust that coats the air in a golden, shimmering mist. The reflective grains, clearly visible when catching the light, flutter down within this. Any substance that comes in contact with the skin will quickly become an irritant, leaving hot and painful rashes that must be washed for relief.
- The use of Huātáo is uncommon due to the limited access the Ch'ien-Ji have to the Dulofall needed, aside from trading with other nations (which they usually dislike). It is, however, given in rather small quantities to most soldiers.
- Huātáo is very much a nod to Chi’en-ji culture. The Galena within the powder holds as a testament to the beauty of their home, the Dulofall's disruptive nature a show of their power, and the Fireweed’s heat a symbol of their magical prowess. The variety in the appearance of Huātáo’s dust also derives from Chi’en-Ji culture. The sand used being variants of reds, oranges and yellow also reflecting their cultural colors.
- Generally, the use of Huātáo is deemed illegal outside of the Yang-Tzu Islands, or at best extremely suspicious to possess. It is, however, appreciated to potentially be extremely useful to hunters or in some cases, defense for others with access to it.