The Phoenix Cave is a location in Final Fantasy VI. It appears in the World of Ruin, and is the resting place of the magicite Phoenix. The cave and the events shortly thereafter marks the culmination of Locke's long quest to find the Phoenix to use it to revive his lost lover Rachel.
The Phoenix Cave is located northwest of Tzen, marked by a star-shaped mountain range and can be reached via the Falcon to drop the party members into the center of the mountain. It requires two parties to be traversed, working together to open new paths for each other to reach the final room. The dungeon is a volcanic area that is also home to one of the eight legendary dragons, the Red Dragon.
While the cave is inaccessible in the World of Balance, Emperor Gestahl apparently had the Phoenix magicite and hid it within the cave. Rumor of the Empire having access to a "legendary treasure" that could restore the dead back to life spread beyond the Empire, and Locke searched the world over for leads on it. After Gestahl's death, a letter containing a hint to the location of the Phoenix Cave was concealed in his painting displayed at Owzer's Mansion, claiming that the treasure is hidden "where the mountains form a star".
In the World of Ruin, Locke found the location of the Phoenix Cave and set out to find it. The party enters the cave later and reunites with Locke in its final chamber where he has found the Phoenix. The party returns to Kohlingen where Locke attempts to use the Phoenix to revive Rachel. Afterward, Locke rejoins the party.
The Phoenix Cave is divided into two floors, with the upper floor being partially flooded and the lower floor being full of lava. The dungeon is full of floor switches that create paths or remove hazards in another part of the cave. The player controls two parties that must work together to get through the cave by triggering switches that open the path forward. Near the end of the cave, the upper floor's flooded area is drained into the basement, cooling the lava to the point it can be walked on and the final area of the cave can be reached. The final obstacle is two buttons that the parties must stand on together to lower a piece of rock that obstructs the exit. When the party first explores the cave and meets Locke here, a cutscene will occur and they automatically leave; on subsquent visits a glowing star in the area where Locke was will teleport the party outside.
- Upper level
Though there are numerous chests in the cave, many of them are empty. Once Locke rejoins the party, he reveals he had emptied the chests, and the treasures he retrieved are given to the party. There is no relation to the items received from Locke and which empty chests are opened, so it is best to just ignore them.
To the left of the first doorway is a chest with a pitfall in front of it, after falling down the player can go down and up a flight of stairs to extend a bridge to the chest, which contains a Wing Edge. To the left on the first floor near the early rows of spikes is a chest behind a row of spikes, and below it a chest with a Teleport Stone. In the lava room are two chests in plain sight but both are empty. The other party can find a chest behind a set of spikes that is also empty. In the smaller lava room later on is a chest reached by jumping over the rocks, but it is empty. Once the room is drained, a chest only accessible by walking on the lava contains a Ribbon. Finally, near the Red Dragon is a chest with a Dragon Horn.
For purposes of giving directions through the Phoenix Cave in this section, the party that steps on the first floor switch will be referred to as "Party A", and the party that enters the doorway they open will be referred to as "Party B". Note also it is possible to walk over the spiked floors without retracting them, but this damages each party member 400 HP.
Move Party B up, right and down to stand on a switch that opens a second doorway for Party A. Move Party A up to a switch that retracts the spikes in Party B's way, then move Party B up past the spikes and right to a switch that retracts the spikes in Party A's way. Move Party A right and down to the stairs down; to the right of the stairs is a chest with a Teleport Stone. Downstairs, move left to a switch that makes three rocks appear in the lava, then take them back down, right, and a long way up to a large block that bars the way. Move Party B downstairs; move them down to find a staircase up to a switch that creates a bridge to a chest with a Wing Edge. Back at the stairs down to the lava room, move right and jump over the rocks back and forth, the chest behind the spikes is empty. Step on the switch to move the rock and allow Party A to pass. Take them upstairs and down the stairs nearby to another switch that moves the rock back. Take Party B upstairs, to the left and down is a save point.
From the save point, take Party B up and step on the switch to retract the spikes. Take Party A back upstairs and go left over the spikes and down into a smaller lava room. Hop around the rocks in a loop to another staircase that opens on a ledge over the flooded area of the upper floor. Pull the switch to drain the water into the lower room. Move Party B left to where a staircase defends into the formerly-flooded area and step on the switch to move the rocks in the area so Party A can pass. Move Party A down and up the stairs and onto the switch to make some rocks appear. Take Party B and move them through the formerl-flooded area to a staircase into the lava room, the chest in the middle room has a Ribbon, then go up the upper-left stairs. Upstairs go down and jump across the rocks.
At this point the two parties are reunited, move them onto the two buttons below to lower the rock and open the path to the end of the cave.
One of the eight legendary dragons, the Red Dragon, prowls the end of the cave near the two switches. Either party can face it by climbing the stairs to the area that was drained of water and going down.
There is also a chest near the Red Dragon containing a Dragon Horn - reaching the chest without engaging the Red Dragon is possible but largely luck based as the dragon moves in random directions in this area and will initiate battle if the player gets within one tile of it, so the party must just stay out of range and wait until the dragon moves so they can reach the chest safely.
- Upper level
- Lower level
"Esper World", also known as "Another World of Beasts", is the background theme of the Phoenix Cave.
Behind the scenes
As the player controls two parties in this dungeon, they can exploit the save point glitch to allow them to save the game and use a Tent anywhere in the dungeon with Party A. In particular this can be useful for facing the Red Dragon, as Party A can get all the way to the dragon's territory with Party B still on the save point, so the party can be fully healed before fighting the boss.
Within the map boundaries of the Phoenix Cave are two exit zones in the north-most wall of the upper level that go unused - they open on the lower level map of the Phoenix Cave, but in a location outside of the map boundaries. Their original intended purpose is not known.