Once, there lived a silver brumby. He was a creamy stallion, with a silver mane and tail that looked like the spray from a waterfall. He was the king of the mountains, and reigned over all of the high country. Many went after him, but none caught him. He was eternally free.
Many stories and legends were told about him around campfires, of his daring ways and ghostly appearences. Stockmen staying at Dead Horse Gap would hear the tales and songs, and would venture out looking for this silver prize. But none captured him, and fewer saw him.
There was one story in particular that was well known; the beginning of the legend. It told of the man on his black horse, and his obsession over this prize. He organised roundups, and chased the ghost through the Cascades, trying to capture him, until he gave up for the day. But he was always there, hunting for Thowra, our hero, the ghost of the mountains.
One day, the man on the black horse chased Thowra far, until they came to the edge of a deep valley. The man thought he had the silver ghost, but Thowra didn't stop. He jumped over the edge, never to be seen again.
Thowra was no ordinary brumby. He knew the mountains he roamed well, and he was just a wisper of wind, as his name suggested. He haunts his own mountains, and when you see him, he will just disappear, as if he was never there. He leaves not a track, he makes not a sound. There is no way of telling where to find him.
Nowdays, people say that he is a ghost. They tell of their own encounters with this strange horse, who likes to lead them on a merry chase, and then disappear. Every stockman has a story about him.
Thowra, the wind. Never forget that name. On a rainy night, if you listen hard enough, you can hear him. You can hear his wild call echoing through the mountains. For Thowra is very much alive!
"And now, it is time for my little girl to go to sleep," her mother said, kissing the little 5 year old girl on the forehead. She tucked her daughter in, and left the room, wishing her a good nights sleep.
8 years later
Thunder boomed outside, and rain thundered on the roof. Keira lay awake listening to it, thinking of her father, who would be back soon. He was caring for the cattle, not very far away. All the men were, leaving her alone here at Dead Horse Gap, in the little tin hut.
She remembered the stories her mother and father had told her, about brumbies, and ghosts, and flickering campfires, and huge, dangerous snowstorms that blew in earlier than usual. She could remember especially, the ones about Thowra, the silver ghost brumby, who jumped off a cliff instead of letting himself be captured by the man on the black horse.
"Thowra, the wind. Never forget that name. On a rainy night, if you listen hard enough, you can hear him. You can hear his wild call echoing through the mountains."
She could remember her mother telling her that, but she had never tried it. She decided to now.
She closed her eyes and listened to the wild weather outside. She listened to the rain pounding the tin roof, and the rolling thunder that echoed off the mountains. But mostly, she listened to the wild wind, which was the commander of all things. It blew the rain against the hut, and brought the clouds over head. It tossed objects around outside playfully, making them clunk and clatter noisily. It whistled past, and played with the tall snowgums that grew only a short distance away. And it carried a sound along with it, a call.
The call she could hear was wild and beautiful, and seemed to not be on the wind, but a part of the wind. Keira's eyes snapped open, and she couldn't hear it anymore. But it rang in her head, wild and majestic, and powerful as the wind. She knew she had heared the call of the wild stallion, Thowra. She smiled and fell asleep.
All through the night, silver brumbies danced through her head, not just one, but many, to many to count. They blew in and out playfully, just like the wind. Their calls rang in her ears, telling her to come to them, to follow them, but when she tried, they slipped away and disappeared, and she woke up.
The hut was empty, and there was not one sound to be heard. The fire smouldered beside her, just a pile of burning embers; she had forgotten to throw another log on before she went to sleep. But it was still hot enough to cook breakfast on.
Keira yawned and streached, the slipped out of her swag and got dressed. She quickly cooked and devoured a can of baked beans, then went outside to see if there was any damage.
All was calm. The wild storm had blown itself out, leaving a calm, fresh morning behind, with just a hint of frost to cover everything in a shiny, glass surface. A dingo slinked by, wily as a fox, and a wombat trundled out of the trees, clearly in no hurry. The cockatoos screeched at each other in the trees, and other birds chattered quietly to one another, adding layers to the natural sounds that were already there. Bushes rustled, and the horses in the yards snuffled and moved around quietly. Although there was no sign of a silver horse now, Keira knew that he had been out during the night. She knew he was real.
After feeding the other horses, Keira got her own horse out and packed up a meal for the three men, who would be ravenous and tired after their night with the cattle. Her little bay mare stood quietly while Keira loaded her with provisions, then mounted herself and set out to the cattle, a short distance away.
The bush was quiet, yet it was noisy. Water flowed somewhere close by – probably the Crakenback River, bushes and trees rustled in the slight morning breeze that played with them. Thebirds kept up their constant stream of chatter overhead, and once, Keira even heard the rhythmic drum of many hoofbeats through the plains, a herd of wild horses. She caught flashes of their colours through the trees; greys, blacks, browns, bays, chestnuts, duns. They moved without care, spirited in the fresh morning, embracing their freedom.
From close by came the low of cattle, and the horses veered away, racing off into the bush, back to their home. Keira's father rode out to meet her, grinning at her. He knew she would be coming with food fo them soon. She was a smart girl.
"Morning Keira," he greeted her. She grinned back at him, happy to see him unharmed. The storms made the cattle neryous, and people got hurt sometimes. "How are things at the hut?"
"Great. Nothing got broken or anything!" she replied. He wheeled his large, stocky gelding around and ld the way into the large clearing where the other two men were sitting around a campfire. Behind them was a mob of brown-and-white cattle, grazing peacefully on the sweet snowgrass. They grinned when Keira rode in behind her father, happy that she had brought them some food.
"Hey!" the younger of the two, Red, exclaimed. His brown face crinkled into a wide, cheesy grin that showed his chipped front teeth. "It's Silva, come to save us with some supplies!" The older man, Darrius, nudged him playfully, and Red pushed him off the log.
Keira giggled and threw her overloaded saddlebags at the men. All play was forgotten as they began to devour the food she had brought.
"Thanks, Keira," her father said, giving her a hug. She grinned and slipped away to her mares side, quickly undoing the girth and slipping her saddle off.
"There you go girl," she crooned. The mares ears flicked towards her, then forward again, at the two other horses across the clearing. They were Red and Darrius' horses, two geldings, a chunky black, and sleek chestnut.
"Are you going for a ride now Keira?" her father asked between mouthfuls.
"Yeah," she answered, jumping onto her mares back. The pretty bay was so small; a tall girl like Keira could get on easily, without the help of a saddle.
"It's my first chance to explore. I wanna see if I can spot some brumbies," Keira told them. She gave Sarasa, her mare, a nudge, and she moved into a smooth trot. Keira turned back and waved goodbye, before she disappeared into the wild Australian bush.
Keira loved to ride like this. She could feel her sleek, powerful horse beneath her, and matched her movements to Sarasas perfectly. There was nothing separating them, and they could truly become one whole.
Sarasa cantered smoothly through the bush, never breaking stride, even when a fallen tree appeared suddenly in front of them. They saw a few lonely brumbies, who galloped away as soon as they came near. It made sense, the brumbies had learnt to fear humans, who came here every year with stockwhips, and ropes, and hunted them down to break in and ride over their own country. Keira's own mare was part brumby, captured with her mother in a roundup when she was a foal. Now she was back, running on the very country she was born in.
All morning, and a good deal of the afternoon, the two explored the high country. They followed the Crakenback River as far away from the hut as they dared to go. They explored Dead Horse Gap. They cantered down Yarramans Valley, and stood before the great king himself, Thowra's father (though they did not know that this was what they had done). They rested at Paddys Rush Bogong, and lay on the sweet snowgrass of the Ramshed Range.
It was as they were heading back, exhausted by the ays adventures, that the real adventure started. Keira was watching the peaceful bush, searching for any sign of brumbies, when she saw him. A large, magical silver stallion ghosted through the trees and appeared in front of them. Sarasa stopped, and nickered at him. Keira sat frozen on her horses back, not even daring to breathe. All her life, she had dreamed of seeing one of the legendary silver brumbies, and now here was the king himself, Thowra, right before her eyes!
He gleamed in the late afternoon sun, with rays of light soaking into his creamy coat. His silver mane and tail glittered like falling water, just like she'd imagined him, only better, brighter, more majestic. The stories that the stockmen told did not do him justice, his glory could not be told in words, or poems, or songs. It had to be witnessed first hand to be understood.
He nickered to the mare, then swung around and strode off, his hard hooves making not a sound, and leaving no track on the hard ground. The mare hesitated for a moment, then sprang after him, catching Keira off guard. The girl felt herself falling and grabbed for a piece of mane, her reins, anything, but there were no hand-holds, and she fell to the ground. Sarasa raced off after the pale ghost of a horse, and left Keira on the ground. All she could do was sit on the ground and wastch as the little bay mare disappeared into the thick bush.
Keira glanced up at the sky. It was dusk, the sky was a glowing splash of colour. The first star was twinkling haigh above her, and the sun spread its last rays of light across the land, creating deep shadows. She wondered how she was going to get home. She didn't recognise this particular part of scrub; it all looked different from the ground.
Keira decided to try and make her way to an area she knew. She got up and dusted herself off. Lucky her horse was small; it meant that it hadn't been very far to the ground, so she had only gotten a bit of a bump. Already the aches from when she had hit the ground were starting to fade. She chose a direction and began walking, keeping an eye out for any landmarks she knew, to tell her where she was.
It was deep twilight by the time she stumbled down the valley. It had been about an hour since she had begun walking, never changing direction, and she was about to give up. Her father would be getting worried, but she had no idea where she was.
She stopped and looked around, hoping for something, ready to give up. She had stumbled into a wide, lush valley, and she was standing near one side at the moment. Above her, was a rock platform that a horse could stand on to look down into the valley. She recognised it – she had ridden through it earlier. Little did she know, but she was now standing in Yarramans Valley.
She felt a whisper of wind come down the valley, stirring her long hair against her shoulders. Turning, she saw him once again, alone again. He floated intot he valley, as if he was trotting on the wind. He stopped in front of her, siler mane and tail floating on the breeze that he brought with him. His creamy coat glowed faintly in the moonlight that bathed the now-dark world in silver light. This was his time of night, when he was the most beautiful.
He dipped his head and gently sniffed at her. Trembling, she lifted a hand and tentatively touched his nose. When he didn't pull away, she stroked him gently. His silver nose was soft beneath her fingers, but she could feel the features of his well-defined face beneath it. His muzzle was velvety and silky, and he nudged her carefully, almost as if he was being careful not to hurt her.
She carefully moved down to his back, trailing her hand along his neck gently. He whickered softly and turned to lookat her expectantely. She laid a hand on his back, then grabbed a handful of mane and stepped up onto a nearby rock. Gently, she slipped onto his smooth, wide back. She gripped his silver mane and adjusted herself. As soon as she was still, Thowra took off into a gentle run. Keira lent forward against his neck, to potect herself from the cold wind that whipped past them as he galloped faster and faster.
It was like nothing she had ever done before. The silver horse beneath her had a stride so smooth that she felt like she was rididng on the wind, which she was. The country swept by in a blur of green and grey, they were travelling so fast that Keira could not see any of the scenery.
Then they slowed, and Keira saw the side of a valley that dropped steeply into the unknown. Thowra didn't stop though, but forged ahead onto a faint path that led through the bushes and into the valley. Keira gripped the silver stallion and peered through the darkness into the valley below. She couldn't see a thing in the gloom, but she trusted Thowra, and was not afraid.
The ground at their feet finally levelled out as they reached the bottom of the valley. As Thowra stopped, Keira looked around and gasped, sliding off of his back. All around her, was a secret herd of mares. There was the pretty mare he stole from a stockman years ago, and Boon Boon, his faithful first companion. Other silver and dun foals and yearlings played, or slept by their mothers around them. This valley was a peaceful haven for all of Thowra's silver decendants, who would otherwise be hunted from the day they were born. This was a place none knew of, and Keira knew that she would not tell anyone about this. The silver brumbies deserved to be free.
A long way away, under the shelter of one of the trees, Keira could see Sarasa. She was comfortable ehre, and had lost her bridle. Keira knew that she would not be leaving the high country for the winter. Sarasa had found a new home, and she deserved this life. This was how she was born.
Thowra moved away from her to greet his mares, and Keira wandered around the valley, taking in the sights and looking for a place to sleep. She spotted a cave in one of the valley walls that would do nicely, and she went over to see if it was as good as it looked.
The cave was large enough for Thowra and one of his mares to stand in comfortably, and very warm. The rough stone walls were not very comfortable to lean against, but the sandy floor provided a soft, comfortable bed for her to sleep on. But when she peered right into the depths of the cave, she saw a small heap of...sand? She looked at it closely, and as her eyes adjusted to the light, she could just make out the curve of its back. Its finely boned head lay on the sand, and she could make out its long, slim legs tucked underneath. A little whiskbroom tail lay in the sand, and a spiky mane shot out of the top of its neck. It was a silver-grey colour, not as glorious as the brumbies outside, but special. Its coat was dim in the gloom of the cave, but she was sure it would gleam in the sun if the foal went outside.
She curled up against the little creature, sharing her heat with it. The foal was cold, there was only a little heat in its body, and would surely be glad of her warmth. It would keep them both warm through the cool night.
Keira drifted off to sleep then, and dreamed she was a silver horse, galloping through the bush, and grazing in this little secret valley that was Thowra's real home.
She woke in the middle of the night, woken by something. When she looked up, a silver mare and foal stood in the mouth of the cave, sheltering from the driving rain that thundered on the ground outside. High above them, the wind whistled over the high plains, bringing with it a fierce storm, carrying the lashing rain and swirling snow. Above them, the snowflakes spiralled and danced, but down here, they fell softly, carpeting the ground with white powder, and frosting the trees in sparkling ice. This was an early snowstorm, and would soon melt, but for now it turned the valley into a beautiful winter scene.
Keira couldn't believe it was real, but she could feel the biting cold that wormed its way right to the back of the cave. The mare in front of her turned and nuzzled her foal, then nudged the little filly towards Keira and her little colt foal. The filly wobbled towards Keira and collapsed at her side. Keira curled up against the two foals and comforted them as they fell asleep, only going to sleep herself when she was sure the mare would not hurt her.
The next morning dawned bright and clear, the early morning sun sending rays of light into the deep valley. The light shattered on the shimmering white of the snow, which had frozen into a hard carpet during the night.
Delighted foals were playing on the white surface, breaking the ice with their tiny feet, and sending shining rainbow fragments flying into the air in a dance behind them. Keira got up and went to the mouth of the cave, noticing that the mare was now underneath one of the nearby trees.
As she had watched the foals dancing in the fresh morning air for a long while, the two foals came to her side, eager to join the game themselves. The little filly joined in immediately, but the colt hung back, hugging her side.
Keira moved forward, away from the foal, and he followed. His coat was a dirty grey in the sun, very dank and uninteresting compared to the glittering silver and strange dun of the others. He had attached himself to Keira, and she noticed that he was almost a year old, and had no mother. She wished she could keep him, but he was a wild horse, and deserved to stay that way. She would not take that away from him.
She had a thought. Though he kept close to her, her stared longingly after the other foals, as if wishing he could play, but choosing to stay with her. She decided to try her theory, and ran after the other foals, who let her join into their game as if she was one of them. She found she could keep up easily, and was soon laughing and playing along with them.
All morning she played with the foals, until Thowra ghosted back into his valley, and they stopped. All acknowledged the king as he entered on a breath of wind, and came to her. Immediately, she knew it was time for her to leave, much as she would like to stay.
She slipped back onto his back and they started out again, ascending to the top of the cliff. Thowra stood on a high, rocky platform above his valley, and together they peered down into the gloom, making out the small shapes of the foals, who had resumed their game, and the larger mares, who stood around and watched.
To their right came a slight noise that Keira only just heard. She swung around, but saw nothing. Just as she was about to pass it off as the wind though, she saw a darker shape appear, then step out of the bushes. It was another stallion, a dark bay who joined them at the platform, standing next to Thowra in between the two gnarled old snowgums.
All three of them stood there for quite a while, looing down at the peaceful sight below them. All too soon, Thowra and the bay (who was Storm, but only the stallions knew this) touched noses, and turned to go their separate ways. Keira yearned to hear their silent words, their secret farewell that only the horses could understand, but it was the same as the wish that she could be a brumby herself. She had to resign herself to this one unforgettable experience, which she did not deserve, but had been treated to anyway.
Before they could leave, a smaller shape appeared from the valley, one that Keira recognised. It wad the little colt she had slept with, the one that had not wished to leave her.
They travelled slower this time, because of the small foal who tagged along beside the great stallion. Still, they made good time, and Keira soon recognised the bush around them, for they were nearing the hut. Towra stopped and she slipped off his back. The foal was immediately at her side; apparently she wasn't going to have to take his freedom away, for he wanted to give it up. She stroked Thowras nose and looked at the foal, who's ears were pricked towards the sounds of the hut before them. She looked back to say one final goodbye to the great stallion, but he was gone, floating away on a wisp of wind.
But she knew what the silent words that echoed aroun the small glade that they stood in told her. Next year, they said.
Keira knew he would keep his word. They walked forward together, her and her silver foal, to face the men at the hut. A story was already forming in her mind to explain her disappearance, one that told no storys of silver brumbies and secret valleys.
Behind them, the call of the Cascades king rang out from Yarramans Valley. Keira knew where she would meet him next year, her and her little colt. She had a true friend in him.
Thowra, the wild silver stallion, still lives on. He roams his mountains, and every year, more stories are told. Every year from then on, Keira went to the valley with the stallion and her little colt, to visit the horses and Sarasa. The silver stallions call echoed through the mountains each time she left, and each time she arrived. She caught sight of him many times, when he followed her on her ventures through the high country.
As she grew older, she passed on the secret to her daughter, and one year, she took the little girl to Yarramans Valley and helped her up onto Thowra's back, where she knew her daughter would be safe. The next day, the little girl was returned to her mother at Dead Horse Hut in the same manner as Keira had been. Keira, however, was the only person to ever 'own' a silver brumby, though he was not entirely hers. And she always kept the secret.
A/N: Yeah, this would so not happen in real life, but it makes a nice story, don't you think? Please review it for me, because I love my reviews soooo much. Plus, reviews might make me write another story. Oh, and if you've got any little ideas that you don't want to use or write, tell me and I might write them for you, if I like them. You don't have to though!
Disclaimer: I do not own The Silver Brumby books, or any of the characters except Keira, who is my own creation.