The Warren
- You need a Crest of Etro, and there are no heretics in view. Lightning assumes this requires you to track one down...

- ... but, naw. There's a very easy way to get a Crest, in fact: check behind the stone monument where the Children of Etro where holding their meeting. There's a Crest of Etro here.

- If you missed that one, you can also find one in the spot in the Warren where you first met Noel. It's a ways southeast of the Children of Etro's base, and when you approach you'll find a Crest of Etro sitting on the ground beside the Oracle Drive. Score! Snag it.

- Barring that, you can also get one by beating on the dude guarding the front door. Makes sense. Regardless, use your Crest to get in.

- (Around this time you'll probably be getting close to 6 am. Once you return to the Ark you'll find a new sphere waiting for you, this containing the EP ability Arise.)

- After a cut scene with Lumina you'll see Noel on the rooftops across from you. Chase after him.

- Hop along the platforms ahead, taking care not to fall. Aim for the orange supports to grab onto ledges and follow Noel. If you do fall you'll have to make your way back to a ladder, and though you can find a Crystal Medal down here, you'll also run into Fanatics who will fight you. Not difficult, but they do suck up some of your HP and make life annoying in general. Make sure your sword is sheathed when jumping or you can't grab onto the handholds!

- After a long jump down to a ramp, you'll find two fanatics waiting. You won't have much choice but to take 'em out if you want past. Look at their feet for a Bronzed Medal. Fanatics are easy to stagger with magic, so make sure to soften 'em up first before attacking with your blade.

- Across the catwalks you'll see another fanatic waiting. Near him is a Silvered Medal.

- More fanatics ahead. First one, then a set of three. Ouch. You'll still only face them one at a time, so that's good, yes?

- Leap down into the alleyway beyond. Approach the Oracle Drive ahead for a cut scene... sad times... aaaand...


Oooo, beating on a friend. Pretty cold, Lightning. If you went straight into this fight without any side exploration, you'll be in for a shock - Noel is actually very tough. He's fast, he's fairly relentless, and he has a ton of HP. (Like, hundreds of thousands. Final Fantasy XIII, everybody!)
Noel sports a wide range of attacks:

- He'll rush at you and take two swipes. You can see these coming and guard as needed.

- Noel will rush at you, as before, but he'll do a backflip just before he gets to Lightning. Then he'll rush forward and deliver a slice. Wait until he lands before you put up your guard.

- He'll put some distance between the two of you and use his Javelin attack, which will sweep in from a range and do a fair amount of damage (300+ HP). As soon as the name of the attack flashes up on the screen, guard. Occasionally Noel will mix his Javelin with a backflip, as well.

- He'll charge up his weapon for a second, then zip in really quickly and bash you. Ouch. Guard when you see his blade spark orange.

- Occasionally Noel will just outright fill his ATB gauge out of nowhere. Be warned, he's about to come on the offensive.

- Late in the fight, after you've taken down roughly half of his HP, he'll use a Slow Strike that hits several times and potentially slows Lightning's ATB recovery. Definitely guard against this one, but wait a second or two after the name flashes.

- Also late in the fight, Noel will leap into the air and unleash Meteor Javelin, a series of aerial javelin attacks. You have about two seconds to switch to a schema with a full ATB and Guard ready to go. This will hit four times; do your best to block 'em all, as this really, really hurts otherwise.

- Also also late in the fight, Noel will use Gale Stab, a series of attacks that each do minimal damage but which add up to a lot. Block the first or you'll take them all.

- When Noel's really getting down there, he'll use Blessing of Shadow. This will buff him, cause him to pause for about a second and a half, and then result in a flurry of weak - but numerous! - physical strikes. Watch for him the moment he begins to zip forward, then guard. Otherwise... big ouch.

The strategy for taking down Noel is, in the final analysis, pretty simple - it just requires a lot of very careful observation and guarding. Get away from him and use up one, possibly two of your ATB bars on pummelling him with magic. Once he comes at you, switch to the third schema and guard. Guard guard guard. You'll want a full ATB bar, because he often hits more than once and will require more than a single tap of the button. If you're lucky - or skillful, hopefully skillful - you'll land some perfect guards which will greatly build his stagger meter and knock him to the ground. Once that happens, go to town with physical attacks until he drops. It will take a long, long time, but Noel will eventually go down.

Having trouble with Noel? (I don't blame you, he's tough.) He has a big elemental weakness, and that's electricity. Thunder Lv. 1 is okay against him, but you could probably use something more substantial. You'll find that on the north side of the south gate into the Warrens, where there's a Thundara Lv. 2 inside a sphere. This spell is much more effective at staggering Noel.

(Conversely, Noel is strong against wind attacks. Leave Aero at the door.)

Still having trouble with Noel? Then go out and explore the world. His difficulty level is at odds with the rest of his chapter, and will throw inexperienced players for a loop. Come back once you've collected more schemata, equipment, and bonuses for completing quests and side quests. Noel will still be here when you get back.

- After defeating Noel, you'll be treated to a cut scene - not to mention a buttload of stat boosts. Woo! Once you have control again, grab the Shadow Hunter that's sitting on the ground in front of you. Then climb the ladder nearby to return to the beginning of the hideout and leave.

- Feel like an optional quest? There's one available now, and it's kinda important to the story!

The Saint's Stone

Client: Aremiah
Location: Holy District, front gate of the Cathedral - only appears between 12 am and 6 am
Quest Item: Crystal Shard
Reward: 500 gil, Paladin, Fragment Crystal

The saint of the city (anyone you know?) has lost something precious to her, and one of her attendants wants Lightning to find it. Head to the Warehouse District and check the northeast corner of the three rows of warehouses for a man checking some crates. Bust them open to find the Crystal Shard. Rush back to Aremiah and hand over the stone. She'll give you the Service Entrance Key.

- Once you have the key, run into the gate beside Aremiah and up to the main gate of the Cathedral. It's locked - but to the left of it is a door you can open with the key. Head inside.
- Run up into the Cathedral and to the far end. Vanille's waiting. Cut scene follows. After it's done, you can run back in and chat with her a bit more. Creeeeepy.