Long ago there was a cult who worshipped Bast, the fickle goddess of Felines. Their temple has fallen, and the cult dispersed and all that remains is a silver wand adorned with the holy symbol of bast, a cat with emeralds for eyes…
Sometimes a sword’s value is not determined by magical properties, of gilding and jewels. Sometimes it’s value comes from it’s deeds and it’s history
Small bits of precious metal, and flawless jewels woven into the mane of a noble steed
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).