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I should have expected that. If the humans can kinda do it, why can't Suriel.(referring to the above question)
Suriel did it already. It's how the Great Elders came to be sealed in that world in the first place.
And the versions the Emperor and Estyr Six dealt with were pale shadows of the entities Suriel would be dealing with. When they're inside an Iteration, they're bound by its rules to some degree. Not so outside.
I also need to know if great elders used to be people, since kelarac talks about when he used to be a merchant.
The Great Elders were never people in the sense that you mean. But there is a human origin to them all.
Metaphysical Great Elders can rip one apart on the molecular level. You said the strongest Cradle character could solo them. Do they have defenses against that?
Yes, they do have a defense against that. At a certain point, your spirit gets strong enough that your madra gives you essentially complete control over your own body. You can resist forces that would affect you directly.
Also, at that level, they have access to powers other than madra that can fight against the Great Elders.
What about Kelarac vs. Suriel? Or any of the Great Elders vs. Suriel?
In a complicated and protracted battle fought on many levels simultaneously, Suriel eventually gets the upper hand. She knows that banishing the Elder will only delay the problem, so she seals the Elder's power and banishes it to a lesser world. A world with special characteristics that will keep the Elder sealed for as long as possible.