It happened on sergeant’s Wilkins last watch. He was just coming back with others, when something reflected the light of his torch. And right next to the fountain, he found it.
It was a small statue, a foot tall, of an exotic design not seen in this town. And it was pure gold, with precious stones of fine quality. The sergeant thought it was a fake, and brought it to his superiors. He spent the next few days getting drunk and telling everyone how stupid he is.
It was the next night, when the story really sunk in. There were found medallions, small golden pieces, each with a gemstone, and the same design as the statue. Nobody knows how many. It was in the night, at fountains, street corners, inns and alehouses. Must have been dozens.
The next morning, two or three leftovers were found. And everybody knew.
In the third night, there will be hundreds, no, thousands searching the city. Where is gold coming from? They all have their own idea… and nobody really cares.
1. And they will burn
The whole diversion was started by agents of a neighboring kingdom. The third night there will be nothing. In the fourth night, shortly before the morning when everybody is asleep and tired, they will set the city aflame, from several places at once. The design is completely invented.
2. Now I see you
The exotic design comes from an exotic land, as a few sources will be able to confirm. From that land escaped someone important, hiding here. In all the confusion, nobody will suspect a few men looking for "an amulet like this or something similar". Some will recall who carried such a thing. In the fourth night, the posse will find the person that thought himself safe, and proceed to kidnap or assassinate him. They are in a hurry.
3. And they deserve it
On the third night, hundreds of of precious coins will be found, creating spontaneous celebrations. The last night they will turn into a riot, when more wealth fails to materialize… and many will die. An old priest of a neglected religion is cursing the people for their greed and selfishness. The gold comes from holy relics, that he has melted down, from his church, that has fallen apart for lack of funding. He can be found there, praying for an end to their selfishness, and mercy for him.