A group of adventurers wandered through the ruins of a long-dead and all-but-forgotten race. In the innermost hall of a temple, a guardian stood who looked into the heart of each companion. In one it found utter chaos, and utter honesty. In another, greed. In yet a third, goodwill towards his fellow man. The guardian asked the travellers what they would do with the items found in the temple. They would be useful to the travellers’ home city, and the group reasoned that the dead had no need any more of these treasures. Yet surely the dead’s belongings they still were.
The guardian eventually decided that the group could be trusted with the temple’s treasure. They returned to their city heroes for their efforts and were praised for the treasure they returned with. Though they did it for the good of the living, still their action was wrong in some eyes. The things of the dead still belong to the dead, and the guardian’s sacrifice of the treasures should not be belittled.
It happened that some weeks hence, this same group was travelling near the forest. Straight out of myth walked a few of the race whose ancestors had left behind the treasures this group had so recently gathered. With the rightful owners now no longer a legend, the taking of treasures from an ancient temple can be viewed in a new light.
Where now does fault lie for what surely now could be considered theft?
Not knowing what had become of the race, was the Guardian correct in assuming the treasures had no living rightful owner?
Is the group absolved by the guardian’s trust in them?
Should the owners have paid more attention to their treasures and better cleaned out their cities? Do they forfeit a claim of ownership by not enforcing it, or are our laws in place to protect even those who will not help themselves?