"Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying." -- Arthur C. Clark
The gnome hefts the giant tome situated on his back and then pushes his round spectacles up his protruding nose. He rubs the tip of his nose, knowing that he should really stop studying with his face so close to the books. The skin would sometimes rub off the tip during long hours of recording and study. Specks were moving on down the road, and he produces a spyglass from a loop on his hip. Through the lens, he spots a group of adventurers. He grins from ear-to-ear and gives a hoot, almost losing his balance due to the weight of the book on his back.
"These fellows look like they have purpose! It's time to find out what they're up to!"
In a long-lost age, a party of adventurers are frozen into stone by the stare of some gorgon-like creature. An unscrupulous rogue, coming across the frozen party several centuries later, decides to haul off two of the statues to decorate his den. Upon his death, an artisan friend of his claims a statue and sells it to a rich merchant, passing it off as his own work. Years later, the merchant gilds the statue in bronze and re-sells it at a much higher price. After passing through the art markets for many decades, the statue ends up in the hallways of a mage academy. Imagine the chaos and confusion when a young mage's spell happens to break the curse of stone, returning the adventurer to life several centuries after his petrification! Is he interrogated by historians? Driven mad by the change of times? Or does he set off on a quest to find and liberate his other frozen party-members?