The batshit-insanity of it all was not lost on Crowley. Being bested by a of all things was just too baffling, and it was something of a sore subject at the moment. His minions had taken to avoiding him at all costs, which was pretty easy since he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. This particular hunter had broken in and stolen some very rare and valuable leather-bound books, killed his entire house-staff, and then, when she couldn't dispose of him, set a hex upon Crowley that caused him to be stuck on a lake beach. In Minnesota.
He had been pacing the narrow rocky coast for a solid hour when he finally lost all pretenses of dignity and screamed in rage at the gulls flying high above him. After gathering his composure once more, he shoved his hands into the pockets of his black trench coat and continued to stalk around the edges of the windswept water.
A craggy outcropping came into view after about another twenty minutes of stomping, all but a thin sliver of crumbling stone submerged in the murky waters. Crowley could hear a shrill, reedy voice crooning a lively tune from the midst of the rocks and water. As he trudged closer, he saw an oily shadow sitting amongst the basalt. The indeterminate shape slowly transformed as he approached into a gray woman dressed in a muddy green shift that hung in tatters on her bony frame. She was braiding lake weeds into her long chestnut hair that hung in dank coils around her gaunt face.
Crowley stopped at the edge of the lake, contemplating his next move when the woman spoke.
"I wonder what brings the likes of the King of Hell to my home?" She peered coyly over her bare shoulder as she began another plait in her thick mane.
Crowley started but quickly regained his passivity. "Fairy, I neither have want nor need of your services."
With a derisive snort, the woman was standing before him in a flash, her icy gaze level with his own. "Oh, aye. You have need of me, dear King. I can smell a powerfully strong curse upon you." She smirked mirthlessly before flicking her tangled tresses behind her and sauntering back towards the edge of the water.
Shaking his head, Crowley stepped forward. "Are you saying you can lift the hex that poisonous, red haired bunch-backed toad of a hunter set on me?"
The weedy woman dipped a foot into the murky water before responding. "And the circle gets the square!" she said sardonically. "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine." Her toothy grin reminded Crowley of an ill-tempered donkey ready to bite.
"And if I accept, what is your price?" He asked casually, brushing off a bit of nonexistent lint from his lapels.
A twinkling green light began to shine in her mud-colored eyes. "Aha, the king is interested, eh? In exchange for my help, you will become my steed for a day."
The demon king guffawed humorlessly. "Me, the king of Hell, carry a water sprite about all day? I think you've got a bit of water on the brain, wench."
The gray woman's smile broadened, showing an impossible amount of teeth. "It's been on the wind that you've lost your thrown, Highness. Probably doesn't help you're rooted to this lake." She was so close now he could smell saltiness and decay on her breath. "There aren't many of my kind around here. And you won't be able to find one as generous as myself."
Crowley weighed his options. He wasn't about to let a get the upper hand, but at the moment he saw no other choice. "Alright, nag. I'll take you on your offer." The woman let out a shriek of unbridled glee and dove into the lake. A few moments later, she resurfaced carrying a thin silver chain.
Giving her damp locks a firm shake, she pranced toward the demon, arms outstretched.
He took a step back. "For one day only. And no whips."
The woman pouted, "Oh, you are no fun!" With a deft hand, she tossed the silver chain over Crowley's head. In an instant, where a demon king once stood was now a pitch-black stallion with glowing red eyes. A silver bridle adorned its proud head. With an impatient shake of its mane, it glowered at the gray woman.
"Keep your shirt on, your Majesty. You make a very fine horse." And with that, she swung herself onto his back and rode off into the sunrise.
Returning to the lake, the kelpie, still in human form, dismounted the massive horse and scratch its poll.
"See, that wasn't so bad, now, was it?" She ran her hands along the silver chain that bound Crowley in equine form. "You do make a fine charger, are you sure you don't want to remain this way? No? Okay, then." She slipped the bridle over the demon horse's ears, and Crowley abruptly returned to his usual form.
The kelpie then stooped and picked up three round pebbles from the shore, giving each of them a light kiss. She then offered them to Crowley. Slightly addled from twenty four hours of being a horse, Crowley shook his head and pawed at the earth before giving his arms a wiggling jerk and taking the stones from her proffered hand.
He stared at the three rocks in his palm momentarily before looking up at the water sprite, the realization that he had been duped crashed into him. "That's it? I just carry a bit of the lake around with me and it's all hunky-dory?" Ire was rising in bubbling waves as he returned his gaze to the pebbles.
"Aye, demon. Sometimes the simplest answers are the best." Giving another toothy grin, the woman turned to the water as she changed into the form of a scraggly mud-black horse and disappeared into the dark chilly depths of the lake.
Crowley cursed loudly as he shoved the rocks into his coat pocket. "Well, let's never speak of this again. Ever," he muttered to himself as he blinked out of existence and into Hell.