Chapter 4:

Chapter 4: Half Human, Half Elf


"You have to realize that half the battle of pulling off a look is just having the self-confidence to pull it off. If you know you look amazing in something, then it doesn't matter if others think you stick out. In fact, sticking out becomes the point," Yin Tao had told Fa Wen. Well, now it was time to put that theory to the test.

She wore a white collar shirt on the inside but in silk with buttons similar to those on a qi pao rather than a typical Aldheresian dress shirt with metal buttons. Instead of a black jacket similar to the school uniforms at home, she opted for an overcoat that flowed down past her waist and mimicked the feel of a traditional hanfu. However, the material was a lot less stiff than a suit but still short and functional enough to let her move freely. Instead of the long gowns that even the Elven youth wore, she opted for a skirt and long stockings that were more typical of what she was used to. Around her neck, she wore an emerald green tie with the outlines of her family's insignia - the qilin - embroidered in a faint gold outline. To close it all out, she wore a beige duckbill beret.

It was a complete clash of styles and colors. Of different materials and techniques. Yet everything had been meticulously planned, picked, and crafted so that it would all fit together. The green of her tie popped against the white dress shirt which stood in contrast to the black and gold-lined hanfu coat. Her emerald green skirt matched nicely with her tie without clashing too harshly against anything else.

She walked into school again. Eyes swung towards her direction. She stood out painfully. But that was the point. Confidence was all that she needed now. And it helped that she could walk normally without tripping over herself.

Despite everything, the whispers came. Whispers and snickers and grumblings. Yin Tao had said that was the point. Elves disliked direct confrontation. They would never openly disparage someone. But they would whisper among themselves from the sidelines. Fa Wen almost preferred the former as the number of whispers continued to prick at her self-consciousness to a breaking point. The same wave of anxiety from the first day rose up and her breathing grew heavy again.

"Did you make that yourself?" a voice asked.

Fa Wen stopped in her tracks. She had been so lost in her thoughts and self-awareness that she had almost missed the question coming from her right. She turned to see an elven girl with hair tied neatly into two buns. Rather than the typical qi pao of the other students, she wore an almost plain white tunic dress. "I didn't make-make it. But yeah, I designed it," Fa Wen answered cautiously.

"It reminds me of Lissia. Have you been there before?"

"Yes!" Fa Wen nearly launched herself into the conversation from pure excitement causing the girl to jump with surprise. "Erh - I mean - yeah. I was born there and lived there for fifteen years. My father just moved us back 'home' because of his job."

The other girl smiled softly. "My father is a merchant. We spent twenty years in Lissia and other parts of the Aldeheresian Empire. I have fond memories of there," she explained.

"Oh really, when did you move here?"

"Oh, around thirty years ago." The scale of time still baffled Fa Wen despite her father also being an elf. "Well, it was nice meeting you," the girl said a little absentmindedly and started to walk away.

Wait, this wasn't how a conversation was supposed to go, was it? Fa Wen couldn't let this opportunity pass. "What's your name?" she practically shouted.

The woman blinked sleepily. "Oh right, I forgot to go through introductions. My name is Guo Mian Xing."

She got a name. Now or never. She had to push for it no matter how ridicolous it sounded. "I'm Fa Wen. Could we hang out? I haven't met anyone else who has been to Lissia."

"I thought that was a given?" the girl asked confused.


"Oh right. Sorry, it's been a while since I've been around human friends," she said with a tilt of her head. She smiled as though she had internally made up her mind about something. "Fa Wen. I would love to talk and become friends one day and perhaps even host a tea party together because I think your outfit is super adorable and we could cause a fashion riot if we sat down and planned it out."

".... what?"

"I need to be more intentional and direct with humans and half-elves don't I? That's what my friends in Lissia back in the day taught me."

"That might have been a little too direct not to mention extremely detailed and specific," Fa Wen noted.

"Oh, do you not want to do all of that? I must have been mistaken," Mian Xing said more perturbed by the possibility of her having read the situation wrong than her proposal being rejected.

"NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT. LET'S BE FRIENDS!" This time students and faculty up and down the hallway all stopped dead in their tracks to stare at the anomaly in their school that was happening.

Yin Tao chuckled as Fa Wen recounted the encounter. "See, I told you it'd work out eventually."

"Yeah, but I'm pretty sure I'm on the rest of the school's hit list now," Fa Wen sighed dejectedly. "But I appreciate your encouragement and advice."

"It comes with the job. When you got an elf professor who's supposed to be the faculty advisor to the short-life species but disappears for ten years at a time, you gotta fill in the shoes yourself you know?"

"I'm still nervous about everything. I still don't know my new home and city well. And this school is massive."

"Good. You should be nervous."

"Why is that good?"

"Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still, right?"

Fa Wen looked quizically at Yin Tao. What a strange idiom. "So, do I have another assignment? What am I supposed to do? Do we even have classes at this school?" Fa Wen asked for the first time about the strange curriculum that existed here.

"Not exactly. The students are free to attend whatever classes and study whatever they want at their leisure. Comes with the territory of some of the elvish students attending here for literally 85 years," Yin Tao explained before once again pulling out a brush and paper, "but I'm here to make sure that us short-lived species don't squander our time."

Yin Tao passed the written assignment to Fa Wen. Join a School Club. "You have got to be kidding me," Fa Wen said.

"Three humble shoemakers brainstorming will make a great statesman, right?" Yin Tao said. "Okay, that one might have been obscure even for me. But I would love for you to find more students that you could interact with on a more regular basis."

"Why me?" Fa Wen asked staring down at the assignment.

"I think you're starting to get it. It's the same reason you chose that uniform."

Fa Wen thought for a moment. Examining the simultaneously clashing and harmonious elements of her uniform. The traditional elven craftsmanship and the modern elven sensibilities are bridged together by clean Lissian designs. "Because I'm half human. Because I'm half-elf. I can both share myself with them and at the same time share and connect with my heritage through them."

Yin Tao smiled. "That's a good answer. We're going to have a fun school year, aren't we?"