A sorcerer with evil intentions or just a murderer waiting for another fool?
At a crossroads, the characters come across a trio of thick poles set into the ground, just outside the overlapping roads.
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).