...A slip of paper. "There's always money in the honey," the Ogrin read aloud from it in his gruff voice.
Jeppy, Maria, and Naia gasped.
"I just thought it was nonsense... They steal paintbrushes and replace them with counterfeits, what do they want to do with honey farms?" The officer asked rhetorically. "Well now I know."
The Buzz put a hand to his forehead. "Why of course, it was a front! Storing excess magic paint in honey." Jeppy shook his head. "How clever..."
"But that still doesn't explain how the honey got here," Naia commented.
The Ogrin walked over and handcuffed the golden Lupe from much earlier. "Here's the culprit."
"How do you know? You just can't go and insult my customers," Jeppy asked.
The Ogrin cocked an eyebrow. "I've been following 'em for months, remember?"
Jeppy, Maria, and Naia nodded.
"Also," Maria observed, "The golden color around his cuffs is rubbed off."
"That too," the Ogrin agreed.
"And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for you less than unobservant honey crumpet shop workers!" He scowled. "Yes, I did it, but this organization is bigger than you could imagine. We go all the way to the top... you'll never catch us all!"
"But WHY did you do it?" asked Jeppy as the Buzz prodded the Lupe's chest, having more golden color rub off.
The Lupe narrowed his eyes at the proprietor. "Because last week you served me my crumpet not only stale and COLD but also with NO HONEY! You call yourself Neopian-famous? You SUCK!" And he continued to babble things endlessly as the Ogrin escorted him out.
"OK, all," Naia commented, "Let's get you all back to your normal colors, hmm?"
And this actually provided a good cover for Jeppy to prepare more crumpets in advance. "Excellent," he said to Maria.
Dr. Sloth looked down at Neopia from the large window of his office aboard the Space Station. "Esterhazy," he asked his loyal Grundo servant and second in command, "have the counterfeiters figured out a way to turn Naia's magic into Transmogrification potions yet?"
"Not yet, sir," the Grundo said with his characteristic smile. "And one was arrested the other day, actually," he continued, the smiling unwavering. "And they think the whole thing is something of a front for honey! Silly Defenders... And they know nothing of, 'the top', of the organization, so to say."
Just then another Grundo, this one wearing a lab coat and carrying a clipboard, ran in. "Doctor, Doctor, We had the first successful Rainbow Fountain Water Transmog potion test!"
"Excellent..." Sloth trailed.