This is one of those things that's worth the challenge.
Unfortunately, it's also one of those things that's more than a little tricky. It takes two parties and a relatively fresh mind to get it figured out correctly. The plan I had in mind when I decided to do this was to go at it all in one shot, and after spending quite a lot longer than I realize reminding myself of how tricky this side quest is, I decided to give it up for the night and try it again with a clearer head, and it still took me another 90 minutes or so to get it figured out.
The thing of this is that it's a switch puzzle, and I'm really not very good at those, if only because I usually find myself half asleep. The trickiest part for me was about halfway through, where there was a wall that blocked off the paths we needed to take, and to get both parties through takes some serious doing. I'm at a loss as to how to describe it, but once pas that point, it's pretty straight forward.
At the far end of the cave, we find Locke, who's been spending the last year or so trying to find the Phoenix Magicite, and the good news is that he's finally done it. How exactly he got through this cave all by himself, I'm not sure. Hell, how he even got in alone is a mystery. But now that he's got the legendary Phoenix, he's going to come with us as far as Kohlingen so he can try to use it on his beloved Rachel. Because the thing's all busted up from being lost for centuries, there's no way of knowing if it'll work, but trying is all Locke's had for the last year, and now it's the only thing that will get him to go on with his life.
Back in Kohlingen, Locke uses the fractured Magicite on his girlfriend. It works, but explodes in the process, giving Rachel only long enough to say that she loves and forgives Locke and that she wants him to go on with his life and make the world the kind of place they both had wanted. She then gives her remaining life force to resurrect the Phoenix Magicite for Locke and the party. Locke also gets the confidence to go on with the collective mission. It'll be great to have a thief back on the team. Plus, the gear he got from the cave is really nice.
The good news is that the Phoenix does have the Life 3 spell, which will come in handy in the Magic Tower. Better yet, it can revive the entire party at once, so long as whoever has it isn't one of the ones who is dead. The down side is that Life 3 takes forever to learn. At least it's worth it.
Now, to wrap this issue up. As I may have said in at least one place previous, I'm now posting these Text Play issues to Patreon before my Passing Thoughts blog. I'm not sure if this fits within the rules of the site, as I couldn't seem to find much that said anything about specific kinds of content being either acceptable or unacceptable. I do believe the only thing disallowed was full-on hardcore porn, but if I'm mistaken in that, it certainly wouldn't be the first time I've been mistaken about something. So, with that in mind, I'm going to be foolish enough to proceed with posting this as I've said I would. With any luck, I may actually start getting somewhere with this. Future issues will almost certainly be longer and better written. So, until next time, stay safe, have fun, keep gaming, and DFTBA!