Link arrives at Hyrule Castle Town and is surprised by the number of people there and how big the buildings are. Realizing he is hungry Link eats food found at the vendors, unaware that he has to pay for it, never mind the fact that he had never heard of money before. One of the merchants ends up taking the Kokiri Emerald from Link and asks him to pay him for the food before he will give it back. A mysterious girl then appears and offers to pay for what he took which surprises them as the value of the rupee was 200 rupees. When they are safe the girl offers to help him into the castle to meet the princess if he promises to play with her for the day. Link agrees and soon the day is over. She thanks him for spending time with her but soon they are attacked and the girl is gone. All that he is able to find is her ocarina. Navi just figures she went home and neither give it a second thought.
Girl: Thank you for today. I...wanted to see what it was like, even just once, to go shopping and pay by myself and play... Just like a normal girl.
‐ Volume 1; Ocarina of Time - Chapter 3
Dawn of the next day comes and Link makes his way to the castle in search of Zelda, careful to avoid the attention of the guards the girl warned him about. When he finally finds the princess he discovers she is the same girl who rescued in him the marketplace the previous day. Introducing herself as Princess Zelda Link returns to her the ocarina she had dropped and gives her the Kokiri Emerald. They are soon interrupted by Ganondorf, the leader of the Gerudo from the western desert. Appalled by his entering the courtyard without her permission she is further angered by his attempts at flattery and inquiry about a royal treasure that she is rumored to have. Denying having possession of such a thing he eventually he leaves, but not before giving Link a surprised glance.
After he is gone she goes on to explain what she knows are his intentions to Link in which he discovers that he is the same man The Great Deku Tree warned him about. She then continues to tell him about a dream she had in which Hyrule was covered by a pitch black cloud that was then broken by a ray of light, revealing a figure accompanied by a fairy and carrying a green and shining stone. She knew from their first meeting that Link was the figure from her dream. She also knew that the black clouds represented Ganondorf. Although her father would not believe her Link did as he experienced his atrocities first hand with the death of The Great Deku Tree. He then makes a promise to Zelda that he will find the remaining two stones so that he may protect the Triforce. Before he leaves she gives him a kiss on the cheek telling him to be careful.
On the advice of Impa, Zelda's attendant and bodyguard, Link heads to Death Mountain; home of the gorons, a rock eating race, and location of the Spiritual Stone of Fire, the Goron's Ruby. Once there Link speaks with the leader of the gorons, Darunia. Asking for the stone Darunia is angry and unwilling to part with it due to the problems that have arisen at Death Mountain which have cut them off from their primary food source; the rocks of Dodongo's Cavern. However, he does say that if Link wants it so badly that he should prove his courage by defeating the ancient dragon, King Dodongo, that had recently been acting up. If he does he will give him the stone. Agreeing, Link goes to the Dodongo's Cavern and successfully defeats King Dodongo. From there a celebration begins and Darunia gives Link the Goron's Ruby, declaring Link a brother to the gorons.
With the Spiritual Stone of Fire in hand Link works toward finding the last and final stone; the Spiritual Stone of Water. Not knowing where to go next Link meets up with an owl named Kaepora Gaebora. Claiming to be an old friend to the Great Deku Tree and knowing where the last stone is, the owl takes him to Zora's Domain where the Spiritual Stone of Water is said to be. Once there Link meets with King Zora who says that his precious, beautiful daughter Princess Ruto had been swallowed by their guardian spirit, Lord Jabu-Jabu. Link offers to rescue her in exchange for the spiritual stone once he's succeeded. King Zora happily agrees and gives him a family heirloom, the boomerang, believing that would help him in his search.
Sure enough, it does as when Link finds Princess Ruto inside Lord Jabu-Jabu there are electric jellyfish everywhere and hitting them with his sword only hurts him. However, the electric jellyfish are the least of his problems as Princess Ruto won't leave––she must recover her stone that she dropped and Link must carry her so that she is not left alone. Despite this, Link is able to recover the stone for her and defeat the monster that was inside Lord Jabu-Jabu. The two talk for a short moment, in which Princess Ruto decides to give Link her stone which turns out to be the Zora's Sapphire, the Spiritual Stone of Water. With his promise complete Link makes his way back to Hyrule Castle.