A party of adventurers walk along late on an open plain, on a moonless night. Abruptly, War screams, the clanging of metal and death-cries are heard. It is an open plain, and nothing is seen, but the sound of a huge battle is all about them. The sounds continue for a half hour before stopping as suddenly as they started. What was it? Perhaps the ghouls of a long-gone battle, reliving their unfortunate last memories...
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).