Once you've dropped off the Ancient Texts in Linga you'll need to head back to Lacuer City. The party still wants an audience with the king, and presumably they can now reach him... presumably. Suffice it to say that you should finish up any business you have outside Lacuer, as you're going to be locked into a quest the moment you step food inside the city.

This is particularly important if you have Opera in your party. This is your last chance to perform a critical task for her, which is going to Arlia and checking out her crashed spaceship in the Sacred Forest. If you want to get her boyfriend Ernest in the party, you need to do this before entering Lacuer.

Upon entering Lacuer a guard will inform you that the continent is under attack by monsters from the north. Ell has fallen, and the people of Lacuer are taking shelter in the castle. The guard will force the party into the city, and you won't be allowed to leave until you've checked in at the castle.

Lacuer City is largely abandoned, aside from a few lingering NPCs, so you won't find much to do. Head to Lacuer Castle and register at the front desk. This will lock you into the castle, though you won't be here for long. There are a few things to note before you carry on with the story:
  • Gamgee, the blacksmith, is standing on the stairs behind the reception desk. Speak to him for a piece of Plate Armor.
  • There's a Guild rep standing near the front desk. He'll offer you normal Guild services.
  • If you check the west waiting room near the entrance to the Arena you'll find a guard. Speak to him and he'll let you rest in the waiting room.
  • If you check the third floor, to the west of the throne room, you'll find the king's bedroom. There's a chest behind the bed containing 5,000 FOL. This is the only time you can get in this room, so make sure you grab the money now.

Head to the east wing of the castle once you're done poking around, and check out the laboratory. You'll find the bigwigs of the kingdom chatting, and after a cut scene the group will be recruited to handle a mission to a place called the Hoffman Ruins. They'll be escorting Leon, a pint-sized researcher with a big mouth... 

... though at least he gives you the Combo Link, which allows you to cancel moves midway through and replace them with a new one. You can set up some rather innovative combos by equipping two moves to each of your Special Art buttons. Very handy. (Doesn't work for Spells, though.)

In addition to the Combo Link you'll receive Leon himself, as he joins the party. Leon is a spellcaster, similar to Celine but targeting different elements. As you might expect, he should stay in the rear of the party - though Leon is a bit better at melee combat than your other mages in a pinch. (Just a bit.) If you're playing as Rena you'll only get Leon for this next dungeon, though if you're playing as Claude you'll get a chance to permanently recruit him a bit later in the game.

With Leon in the party you can leave both the castle and Lacuer City, but you can't travel off of the continent. Head over to Hilton, which is still operating more-or-less normally, and check the port. Speak to the soldier in front of the berthed ship and he'll ferry you over to the Hoffman Ruins...

Hoffman Ruins Region - Enemies
  • Archer - 3,000 HP - Weak to Wind
  • Axman of Doom - 25,500 - Weak to Light
  • Cockatrice - 7,200 HP - Weak to Fire
  • Mandrake - 9,800 HP
  • Petri Gerel - 3,900 HP - Weak to Earth
  • Salamander - 28,650 HP - Weak to Water, resists Fire
... almost. The ruins are on a remote island to the north of the Lacuer Continent. This is the only time you'll have to come to the Hoffman Coast, so you might as well have a quick look around before heading to the ruins, off to the west.
  • Look northeast of the landing point and you'll find a chest containing eight pieces of Meat.
  • Right next to the Hoffman Ruins is a chest containing three Goddess Statuettes.
  • Check the woods a little ways northeast of the Hoffman Ruins. There's a chest out here containing three pieces of Magic Clay.
  • Look southeast of the Hoffman Ruins for another chest. If contains five pieces of Wolfsbane.
  • If you have the Bunny Call Super Specialty you can use it to climb over the mountains that line the island. Check in the northwest and you'll find a small beach with a chest. The chest contains a piece of Mithril, which, if you're trying to get the Aeterna, will prove useful.

Hoffman Ruins - Enemies
  • Axman of Doom - 25,500 HP - Weak to Light
  • Black Slime - 22,500 HP - Weak to Light
  • Bowlady - 12,900 HP - Weak to Wind
  • Protector - 7,000 HP - Nullifies Fire, Water, Wind
  • Salamander - 28,650 HP - Weak to Water, resists Fire
The Hoffman Ruins are your first dungeoneering experience with multiple levels. This isn't a huge deal this time around, though multi-floor dungeons become increasingly complex as the game goes on. Get used to it. A few notes about the enemies in here, which have some overlap with the foes on the world map:
  • The Salamanders are walking tanks, and if one manages to pin a party member they can rip you apart with their fire attacks. Do your best to surround these things so they can't react.
  • Although they only use basic attacks, the Axmen of Doom can be a really pain since they travel in large packs - and they tend to all travel together. Watch your positioning or they can surround a character and pummel them into submission in seconds.
  • The Protectors are completely invunerable to several elements, which includes weapons that have those elements equipped. You may want to enter this area with neutral weapons, or at least swap to characters with neutral weapons.
On top of the enemies you need to watch out for an environmental hazard on the lower level of the Hoffman Ruins. The depths of the ruins have lots of mine carts, and some of them are still (somehow) functioning. They will occasionally sweep across the battlefield, and if you get caught against one you'll take damage, as well as get swept along for a bit. (On the plus side, so will the bad guys.)

Hoffman Ruins - 1F

The first floor of the Hoffman Ruins consists of a Save Point, an elevator, and several small rooms to the west. If you check the western rooms you'll find chests containing five ?HERBS (Appraise them for some Artemis Leafs), a Splinter+ for... someone... and a White Clip+ for Opera. Leon will, uh, open the way forward, and you can use the elevator to get to the lower level of the ruins.

Hoffman Ruins - B1

This is where most of the action takes place in the ruins. You'll hit a cut scene to the southeast that will alert you to a nearby switch, connected to a red laser line. Press the switch to activate the laser and destroy the rocks that are blocking your way further south. Beyond here you'll start running to enemies, so be ready for those mine carts mentioned earlier.

You'll hit an intersection to the south. Head southeast and you'll find a laser switch. Trigger it to blow up nearby rocks. This will get you to a chamber with two chests, containing two ?MINERALs (both are Orichalcum) and a Fine Shield. Watch out for the Enemy Leader lurking in this chamber.

Head back northeast. A rock is blocking the path southeast, forcing you further northeast. There are four laser switches ahead that will blow up various nearby rock piles. Activate the lasers to open up a chamber in the north, inside which is a chest containing three Goddess Statuettes. Another will blow open the path south.

The chamber to the south has a Unique Spot, The Glint of Hidden Power, that you should check. You'll receive a Light Cross+ for doing so. A short walk to the right of the Unique Spot is a chest containing three Hexagram Cards.

South of here you'll find a chamber that, again, branches off in a bunch of directions, most of which are blocked. In the main chamber you'll find more switches, but these have blue lasers. You need to activate these in a particular order, or enemies will spawn and attack you. The dots at the base of each switch indicate the proper order:
  • North
  • South
  • East
  • West
Past here you'll find a switch that blows open a shortcut to the entrance of the ruins. You'll also find paths to the south and southwest. Take the southwest path first, as you need to activate a blue laser switch down here (as well as pop open a chest containing Primavera).

Head back north, then take the southbound path, following the line of the blue laser. You'll wind up in a chamber with some enemies and a Save Point, as well as more blue laser switches. Activate the one to the north and the one to the south when you emerge into the room. This will open up a small chamber on the south side of this area, within which is a chest containing a Wizard's Cap.

The passage to the north of the save point leads to your destination, but it is blocked by more blue lasers - and when you head further east, you'll discover that they're not in one convenience room this time. Let's itemize this process:
  • Start by heading south, taking a left when the path splits. This will bring you to a small chamber with the first blue laser switch. Trigger it, as well as the nearby red laser switch, which will blow up a wall to the north.
  • Walk east. The fourth blue laser switch is over here, which you shouldn't touch. You should activate the red laser switch, which blows up a wall back west. This will get you to a chest containing ?JEWELRY (a Light Cross+, when appraised).
  • Go back east, then head north. The second blue laser switch is up here - activate it - along with the lower red laser switch. (The upper one just releases an enemy.)
  • Head back to the intersection near the Save Point. One of the red switches has opened the way to the third blue laser switch. Defeat the enemies, then press it.
  • Return to the southeast to trigger the fourth blue laser switch, which you avoided earlier.
  • Trek to the north. The fifth blue laser switch is up here. There's also a red laser switch that will open a chamber up north and on your right. Inside are chests containing Holy Mist and a Playful Handy Stick for Welch.
  • Return to the intersection near the Save Point and activate the sixth, and final, blue laser switch.
This will open the way into the final chamber of the Hoffman Ruins. Use the Save Point again, defeat the Enemy Leader guarding the passage, then head inside. Be ready for a scrap.


HP: 77,000
Weak to Light, Dark
Resists Fire, Water

How... Egyptian. The two Halfynx that engage you in battle are a bit of a pain in the butt. Aside from their physical attack, which can catch you a bit off guard with its speed, they use the Thunder Storm Spell. The charge-up is slow, but Thunder Storm can hit multiple characters, multiple times, for a decent chunk of damage. 

This fight is much easier the more physical fighters you have. Watch which Halfynx your AI characters target, then send your main fighter to distract the other one. Your objective here should be to smack the Halfynx around so much that they don't get a chance to use Thunder Storm. The larger Enemy Leader Halfynx is your preferable target, as it takes more hits to stun, but you can't do anything about the targets chosen by your comrades. Overwhelming the Halfynx with Assault Formation summons will make up for any AI-driven choices.

You'll receive a Star Ruby for defeating the Halfynx, and after teasing Leon a bit the party will retrieve the Energy Stone they wanted from the ruins. You'll receive The Ore of Hope Achievement, and you can head out of the Hoffman Ruins. Take a left from the Save Point, head north, go right, and then north again to find the elevator. (Or just Fast Travel to the first floor.)

If you're playing normally you'll leave the Hoffman Ruins without any further fuss. If you have Opera in the party, however - and if you saw her spaceship in the Sacred Forest, outside Arlia - you'll run into a cut scene with Ernest, Opera's elusive boyfriend, as you're leaving. He has been possessed, and you'll need to defeat the creature holding him captive. The Ghost is technically a boss, but... it is so dang easy.

After the battle Ernest will return to normal, and you can choose to recruit him into the party. Ernest is a decent fighter, and uses his whips to hit at a respectable range, further than any other melee character. He's not the best, by far, but you can get by with Ernest. Note that if you come this far and turn Ernest down, he will leave - and so will Opera. The only way to keep Opera without finding Ernest is to not see the spaceship in Arlia. You'll receive The Itinerant Archaeologist Achievement if you recruit Ernest.

Head back to the Hoffman Coast and set sail for Hilton, then Fast Travel to Lacuer City. Trek up to the throne room in the castle to trigger a cut scene. Leon will leave the party - permanently, if you're playing as Rena - and you'll receive a new mission: Travel to Lacuer's Front Line Base. They need help fighting monsters, and the party is pretty good at that by now.