Tantalum is a rare, blue-grey metal that is found deep within the chasms of Ferchiun*. Immune to all but the strongest acids, if more had heard of it would be more sought after. It is nearly as hard as adamantine and holds an edge equally as well. Those few who believed such a tale did not return from their quest to gather any, or if they did, it was not to the homes from which they came.
The player characters, experienced and somewhat well known, hear rumors and travelers' tales about a distant area being overrun by dragons (or other terrifying monstrosities). The locals have sent them a message, begging for heroic aid.
When they investigate, they discover that nothing of the sort is going on. It turns out that a group of thieves wanted them out of the way so that they could rob them (or someone who would normally receive their protection).