My name is Alina Carpenter. I'm fifteen.
I've been known by a lot of names in my life. If you wanted to really push it, you could use my full name: Lady Alina Tree-Dancer Carpenter-Barrowheel, The Fireborn, Song-Keeper the Younger, Mother-of-the-Wood. But that's stupid. Anyway, I don't really like the labels that get attached to all those names. They make me feel like something to stare at, when really all I want to do is disappear. I suppose that's why I've started this diary--to hide, to have a place to put my secret thoughts.
There's not a lot of secrecy among the Children of the Wood, so I have to take it where I can get it--in this journal, this pad of wooden tablets, bound in bark and fastened with leather. It isn't much, but it'll have to be enough. It was a gift from Rowan--she gave it to me three weeks ago now, just after the Reunion. She said she made it herself. I believe her--Rowan's handy with things like this, and I'm glad to have her as a friend. Still, I didn't actually think I was going to use this. Funny how life works.
I'm only fifteen, and there isn't much that's special about my beginnings. I was born an only child to a carpenter, my father Edgar, and his wife Ornelia. We lived among the People of the Wheel, in a small fishing village called Ornith's Pier. It's right on the shores of the Saltless Sea, and it's maybe a day's journey by carriage from the city of Sagana.
That's all there really is to say about that. But as for the rest... well, I've never really gotten to be like most girls my age. I've lived as an orphan most of my life, since I was ten. I live away from the Wheel now, deep in the Wood of Uron, among the people who adopted me, the Children of the Wood. Until this year, I lived as one of them for five summers. Now I serve them--I've been chosen to be what we call the Keeper-of-Songs, the guardian of history and experience for the Evergreen. It's supposed to be an honor, but honestly I don't really know how I feel about it yet. There's been a lot that's happened in the last month or so, and I'm still really struggling to deal with all of it.
I may only be fifteen, but I've never gotten to be like most girls my age. I've been an orphan; I've seen war. I've seen fires consume whole forests, swallowing trees like the machines the Saganese used. I've watched villages laid to waste, only to see them rebuilt again. I was among the first to see the Children of the Wood in a thousand years; the first one to enter their realm and return with the tale. According to some people, I'm the reason the Reunion happened.
I've been in love with a boy my age. I've seen people die. I've killed people.
It's been maybe a month since the Reunion. Indigo was right; my world is different now. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad for it. It's just... it's all a bit much. I'm still adjusting to my new role with the Wood-Children. I'm still grieving for my friends. Every day, as soon as my lessons with Madeleine are over, I go walking alone in the woods and cry. I understand why it had to happen, but it still hurts. I miss my father. I miss Indigo. I miss Oak-Root. I miss my mother--she's alive, but I don't think things between us will ever be the same. The last time I visited her, she seemed so frail. They were moving her things out of the Governor's Mansion.
So this is my story: the story of Alina Carpenter, Song-Keeper. Most of the Children still call me Tree-Dancer, but I know that'll pass in a few years. This is going to be where I put all the thoughts down, this is going to be where I hide myself. Maybe one day, when I'm older, I'll write about everything that came before this; how I came to the Wood, how I came to be Tree-Dancer. But not today. I'm too tired. Right now, all I want is to focus on just being a girl again.
I miss just being a girl.