- "You should know that the council of elders is angry about...what happened. They say "that Hylian" stole Mipha away. But us Zora who are around 100 years old now...we know what it was like back then. We don't believe that. You and Mipha are Champions who held back the Calamity for all of us!"
- — Kodah
The Council of Elders or simply Zora Elders is a group of elderly Zora that appear in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They are a governmental council made up of senior Zora many of whom where young adults before and around the time of the Great Calamity, but have reached old age one hundred years after the Great Calamity. They act as an administrative council which assist the Zora Royal Family in running Zora's Domain.
Background and History
Before the Great Calamity, most of the elders where adult Zora who lived during that period and the Great Calamity that followed. Some of them like the Demon Sergeant Seggin were Zora Knights. They are known to have all cared deeply for Princess Mipha who was beloved by the Zora people due in part to Mipha's Grace which allowed her to heal her fellow Zora. Some of the male elders are implied to have been infatuated with Mipha much like how female Zora are infatuated with Mipha's younger brother Prince Sidon one hundred years later, while others like Seggin cared for her like she was one of their own as Seggin was Mipha's combat instructor.
As a result, they took Mipha's death during the Great Calamity extremely hard, to the point many of them blamed her death and the Great Calamity on the Hylians, specifically the Royal Family of Hyrule and the Hylian Champion Link. Their anger is shown to be especially directed towards Link himself who they derogatorily refer to as "that Hylian", whom the Elder's claim stole Mipha away and blame for her death, feelings which are only intensified once they learn of Link's survival one hundred years after the Great Calamity. As a result, most are openly contemptuous towards him and scoff at the idea of seeking any Hylians help in dealing with Vah Ruta, let alone Link himself. However not all Zora elders blame Link for Mipha's death, as shown by Kapson who is the only one of the Zora elders to understand that Mipha's death was the result of events beyond their control, including Link's.
One hundred years after the Great Calamity, most of the Zora Elders have retired or taken up other duties such as Trello, who is in charge of the Champion Festival. Some, like the Blacksmith Dento, continue to work in the same occupation even one hundred years after the Great Calamity. Sargent Seggin, despite being retired briefly, comes out of retirement to aid Prince Sidon in combating Vah Ruta, but his age has reduced his once formidable abilities, though his pride and anger prevents him from accepting Link's help, as he wishes to stop Vah Ruta so his former student's soul can rest in peace. It is implied that some of the elders who were infatuated with Mipha may have been aware of Link's close relationship with Mipha who was deeply in love with him, thus some of their anger towards him could be the result of jealously and/or Link's failure to protect a woman who loved him so deeply only intensifies their anger towards him. Others, such as Muzu are shown to be unaware of Mipha's feelings for Link and simply blame him and the Royal Family of Hyrule for failing to prevent the Calamity and Mipha's death. However after Link and Prince Sidon reveal this fact to Muzu, he has a change of heart and is willing to, albeit begrudgingly, accept Link's help. However it is implied that Link is simply an easy scapegoat and that their anger is simply misplaced as they are unaware that Mipha was killed by Waterblight Ganon, one of the phantom scourges created by Calamity Ganon to corrupt the Divine Beasts and kill their pilots.
However, although Link is blamed by the Elders, the adult Zora who were children during the time of the Calamity or born after it do not hold any animosity towards Link, with some such as the former Big Bad Bazz Brigade members, Kodah, and Kayden being happy to have learned of Link's survival and are respectful towards him. It is, however, implied by Mipha's Diary that most of the younger Zora who knew Link had known him since his early childhood as Link first came to Zora's Domain with an envoy of Hylians when he was just four years old. In addition to Mipha, Kodah was also smitten with Link in her youth and even competed with the Zora Princeess for Link's affection, though she ultimately married Kayden. However she treats Link like an old friend and it is implied she and the rest of his childhood friends know Mipha and Link well enough to know she would not want them to hold him responsible for her death and that Link would have done everything within his power to protect Mipha and Hyrule as Link had been a prodigal swordsman since he was four years old. Additionally, neither King Dorephan nor Prince Sidon blame Link for Mipha's death and are fully willing to accept Link's help. It should be noted that Link is implied to have driven off a Lynel that threaten Zora's Domain in the past and was close to Mipha, thus this may explain their respect for him. Additionally King Dorephan, and to a lesser degree Sidon, are aware of Mipha's feelings for Link and realize that Mipha would not want them to blame Link for her death. It is implied that Prince Sidon is disliked by many of the Elders for his willingness to seek the help of a Hylian after his and Seggin's attack on Vah Ruta failed. Interestingly, this causes many of Sidon's female admirers to hold the Elder's in contempt as they respect Sidon's decision as the threat of the East Reservoir Lake over filling threatens to flood not only Zora's Domain but also other areas of Hyrule downstream.
After Link manages to enter Vah Ruta with Prince Sidon's help and defeat Waterblight Ganon, which frees Vah Ruta and Mipha's spirit, Link manages to redeem himself with many of the Elders having a change of heart and being more willing to accept Link as an ally to the Zora who saved them. Presumably this event and Calamity Ganon's defeat help ease the tension caused by Mipha's death and removes much of the elders' anti-Hylian sentiments.
Role in Zora Society
Much like the Goron Elders, the Council of Elders act as advisors to the Zora leadership and assist their people's leaders and armed forces in maintaining civil order. However their influence and effectiveness is hurt by their stubborn refusal to accept help from non-Zora, which causes them to reject the idea of seeking Link's or any Hylians aid in dealing with Vah Ruta and causes them to lose respect among the younger Zora who do not share their opinion of Link, causing them to lose touch with the younger generation. Were it not for King Dorephan and Prince Sidon's support of Link, it is likely that the elders' stubbornness would have doomed Zora's Domain due too their refusal to seek outside help. Some of them like Trello, Muzu, and Kapson work in official capacities as Trello is in charge of the Champion Festival, Muzu acts the chief Royal advisor, and Kapson is qualified to officiate wedding ceremonies, even between non-Zora such as Hylians and Gerudo. Others like Seggin are retired knights who likely act as senior military advisors and may occasionally be called out of retirement during emergencies such as the threat posed by Vah Ruta. Others like Dento and Jiahto are respected craftsman as Dento is a blacksmith who repairs Tridents and Jiahto is a stone mason who was responsible for the Zora Stone Monuments that record Zora history and presumably the memorial statue of Princess Mipha. It is implied their hatred of Link did lead to monuments to his heroism being forgotten and neglected as the Zora Stone Monument telling of Link's defeat of the Lynel have become so whethered and the temple in Toto Lake where the Zora Helm was enshrined in memory of Link's heroic deed had fallen to ruin.
However once Link frees Vah Ruta and the elders let go of their anger towards him and the Hylians, they become more willing to put the past behind them and focus more on the future.