If the Ancestral Tree is regarded as the most important entity in existence, then argument has to be made that the person in charge of protecting it is the most important role in the entire world, even more so than any leader of any Kingdom.
Who is the Ancestral Elder?In the hills of the north western regions of Aldenia sits a grove and within that grove lies within, one would find The Ancestral Tree. According to myths, this tree was a gift when Lathander and the Raven Queen agreed to end their love. The tree is supposed capable of connecting people with their ancestors. The tree is therefore an incredibly important fixture in Aldenia and as such a group of druids found the need to protect this special entity and The Circle of the Ancestors was born. The Circle has a loose hierarchy, but naturally there is one person revered the most and in charge of the major ceremonies within the Circle. This is the Ancestral Elder.
The only true requirement to become the Ancestral Elder is to hold the title of Archdruid at the time the position becomes available. The Ancestral Elder is not strictly speaking the oldest druid within the Circle. However, the position is appointed by mutual agreement amongst the Archdruids, and they regard whomever they believe is the wisest amongst them to rise into the position of Ancestral Elder. It is also necessary that the Elder is particularly adept with the druid magic as they will be responsible for performing the various rites amongst the community. The successor is identified as soon as the day after an Elder's promotion. Over the remaining years served of an Elder, the successor may change but there will always be one ready to assume the mantle when needed.
It is the Ancestral Elder's duty to perform the various rituals within the community. This includes:
- The Setting of the Soul following The Death of an Ancestral Druid. It is often the first duty a newly appointed Ancestral Elder has to undertake as they will have to perform this ritual for the previous holder since this is a position usually held until death.
- A Newborn's Purgation ritual, which is seen as cleansing the soul after the birth of a child.
- The Unification of Two Souls, which follows a marriage ceremony. The Elder is also the one who officiates the ceremony.
- The Year's End and Bloomtime ceremonies. Year's End is the Sacred Day, which is set between Cyndorras and Aurillia, the last and first months of the year. Bloomtime is the Sacred Day set aside to celebrate the onset of Spring, it falls after the third month, Tymorras.
Accoutrements & Equipment
There are no changes to the garb worn when being promoted to the Ancestral Elder position. However, the Elder will inherit the Staff of the Ancestors. This staff, as far as records can tell, has existed for millennia and has been passed down from Elder to Elder.
The first recorded mention of this title is dated roughly two and half thousand years prior to the The Cataclysm Wars. As such, it is one of the longest lasting positions in history. It is entirely possible that the role pre-dates this reference. Over the three thousand years since, the race of the Ancestral Elder reflects the rough racial demographics of the Circle over time. The vast majority of Elders are Goliaths, also in part due to their relatively short lifespans. Dwarves, due to their geographical closeness to the Circle's grove are the next highest in both Elders and numbers within the Circle's ranks, followed by Elves and then Gnomes. Surprisingly, despite being the most populous race on the continent, Humans have relatively few Elders in comparison nor are particularly common Circle members.
The most well known of all historical Ancestral Elders is likely to be Thanoth Nightcarver Gathakanathi. He was the Ancestral Elder at the point of the Ancestral Tree's corruption with Vaedrin's Blight. This physical corruption of the Ancestral Tree had the passing on effect of corrupting the souls of the wardens sworn to protect it - The Circle of the Ancestors. Affected worst of all was the Ancestral Elder. Thanoth became the ninth and final member of what would become know as The Council of Nine, the group responsible for the darkest of deeds during The Cataclysm Wars. As such he is more remembered for being a Council member first, rather than an Ancestral Elder, strictly speaking. The first recorded holder of this position is stated as being another Goliath, Paman Hornweaver Thunukathai.