In the middle of an unimportant combat with some bandits a burst of wild magic transforms all of the PCs and their opponents in to random animals and monsters. They retain their intelligence (though not, of course, the ability of speech). They can either carry on the combat in their new forms, panic, or otherwise react how they see best. After about an hour, they return, unharmed, to their normal form.
A rumour of the knights of some powerful king that sleep until danger threatens the kingdom.
The truth is that they were rebels, trying to split the kingdom. Once captured they were put into an enchanted sleep, protected from age and harm, until their aims have been carried out by others in which case they will awaken.
There is a loophole in the spell in that trying to take one of their weapons will also awaken them.