From Wikipedia of the Dark Brotherhood, an online Star Wars Club
Real World Perspective.
What A Wonderful Smell You've Discovered...
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Perhaps the most dangerous of adversaries within the Brotherhood are the Elders. These members have reached the highest level of power available to most of their kin. They wield significant influence in terms of political, financial, and mystical resources. A strong network of allies, sycophants, Apprentices, and Clan affiliations provide the basis for this influence. They are privy to secrets that would shatter the minds of most Equites, and often care nothing for the Journeymen Class.

Almost universally, the Elders have overcome the shortcomings of their respective Orders. While an Adept of the Sith is still most familiar with the precepts of the the Sith Order, they will have an understanding of the other Orders that no mere Sith Warrior would even consider. In order to make the leap to Elder status, a member must demonstrate the strength of will to overcome this particular block. Many powerful and influential members have lingered in the Equite class for years, simply because they were incapable of abandoning the prejudices of their Order.

The position the Elders command is often the most mystically based, though many of these individuals have spent their careers earning political clout within the hierarchy of the Brotherhood. At this point of their Ascendancy, they crave mystical knowledge above all. Most of the capable researchers are found among the Elders, who have the resources to devote their time to exploration. Even the newest Elder is bound to have access to more arcane knowledge, and an even greater devotion to the attainment of the Final Order than others not of this class.

Ranks Sith Order Force Disciple Order Jedi Order Mercenaries Loyalist Forces
EL4 Ascendant Ascendant Ascendant Myth Executor
EL3 Prophet Prophet Prophet Legend Grand General
EL2 Master Master Master Master Moff
EL1 Adept Adept Adept Eminent General

Equite Elder
Grand Master