To most members of other breeds, a Guardian’s Search and subsequent duty protecting their Charge is a straightforward, even simplistic affair that ends in the death of either or both - usually the latter, as Guardians tend to pine away into oblivion when their Charge dies. However, Guardians themselves recognize that things can be much more complex.
For instance, what if a Charge dies a natural death of old age? A Guardian can live for several centuries and easily outlive most other dragons and beastclan. Attempting to extend the aging Charge’s natural lifespan through unnatural means would be either prolong suffering or result in the creation of undead. In this scenario, the Guardian is celebrated as having succeeded in their duty, which has come to a natural and honorable end.
Conversely, a Charge such as a sacred tree or building could potentially outlive a Guardian. A responsible Guardian must recognize when age is slowing them down and reducing their physical and intellectual ability. While they cannot bring themselves to abandon their Charge, it would be unforgivable to allow their condition to deteriorate to the point that they cannot protect the Charge effectively. Older Guardians therefore seek out and mentor younger replacements so that their duty is passed on.
Guardians that have honorably outlived their duties are known as the Emancipated.To help them move on emotionally, the companions of such Guardians are instructed to arrange a bizarre and surreal ‘funeral’ ceremony for them, to signify that their former self has ‘died’ alongside their Charge. A few become depressed and still pine away for the simple lack of something to protect, but many more become free-spirited travelers and mystics, replacing the hardwired longing for a physical Charge with a search for something more intangible.