Choices and consequences for the Ghost in the Tree in “Ladies of the Wood” and “The Whispering Hillock”
The Witcher 3’s “Ladies of the Wood” is not a complicated quest on its own, but it ties into a couple other quests, and your choices have lasting impacts.
This guide is about the choices you make during “Ladies of the Wood” and the related “The Whispering Hillock” quest. We’ll help you understand what your options are and the consequences of your choice.
LADIES OF THE WOOD WALKTHROUGH
During “Wandering in the Dark,” Keira gives Geralt a book titled Ladies of the Wood. Open your inventory and check the book to start this main story quest.
Progress through the quest by following your map waypoints and using your Witcher Sense. There’s nothing hidden or complex here, so just keep completing the objectives as they appear.
Continue until you’re asked to “find out what’s killing villagers from Downwarren.”
Follow the waypoint, and you’ll end up with a new main quest, “The Whispering Hillock.”
THE WHISPERING HILLOCK WALKTHROUGH
As you approach the hill(ock), use your Witcher Sense to find nearby enemies. You’ll have to deal with a Werewolf and some Wolves before you can proceed.
Visit the nearby Velen Place of Power, and boost your Igni Sign. Follow the ledge and climb into the cave beneath the hill.
Follow the cave, and swim under the water. When you surface, you’ll meet the Ghost in the Tree.
During your conversation, you’ll get the choice to either free (“I’ll help you”) or kill (“I don’t believe you”) the spirit.
We’ll explain each choice and their consequences below.
ANSWER 1: “I’LL HELP YOU” (RELEASE THE SPIRIT)
If you choose to help the Ghost in the Tree, you’ll need three things to complete a ritual: raven feathers, the spirit’s remains (bones), and a horse.
You already collected the Raven’s Feathers during the earlier part of “Ladies of the Wood” while helping Johnny. If you missed them, return to the crow’s nest where you retrieved his voice.
FIND THE BONES OF THE SPIRIT TRAPPED BENEATH THE WHISPERING HILLOCK USING YOUR WITCHER SENSES
Exit the cave and follow your map marker into the swamp. Deal with the Drowners and Water Hag you encounter. Use your Witcher Sense to look for a headstone on the south edge of the search area.
CALM A WILD HORSE USING THE AXII SIGN AND MOUNT IT
Follow your map to the area indicated. Pull up the Axii Sign, and slowly approach the horses that appear. Hit it with Axii, and then mount it. Ride it back and into the cave.
START THE RITUAL
You have one last choice here to either go through with the ritual or kill the spirit. If you press on with the ritual, you’ll free the Ghost in the Tree.
ANSWER 2: “I DON’T BELIEVE YOU” (KILL THE SPIRIT)
If you choose to kill the Ghost in the Tree, you’ll immediately start a fight and get the objective “Destroy the heart in the tree’s roots.”
The tree will throw up a magical shield and summon several insect-like Endrega.
Handle the Endrega, and swing away at the Tree’s Heart when the shield drops. You’ll have to repeat that process a couple times.
TELL THE EALDORMAN OF DOWNWARREN YOU TOOK CARE OF THE PROBLEM
Whichever choice you made, the ealdorman of Downwarren will be nearby outside of the cave. Talk to him, and several scenes will happen in a row — you won’t have to walk anywhere.
You don’t have any more choices, so just navigate through the conversations to the end of “Ladies of the Wood.”
In the next section, we’ll talk about the consequences of the choice you make and give some guidance about which way you should go.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “I’LL HELP YOU” AND “I DON’T BELIEVE YOU”
Either choice you make will let you successfully complete “Ladies of the Wood.” However, your choice impacts a side quest called “Return to Crookback Bog” (which is itself another offshoot of “Family Matters”) that happens later in the game.
[Warning: There are spoilers for “Return to Crookback Bog” below.]
FREE THE SPIRIT
If you chose to free the spirit, the town of Downwarren will be destroyed when you return later. Later, you will not be able to save the Baron’s wife, Anna. The Baron will not survive either.
KILL THE SPIRIT
If you chose to kill the Ghost in the Tree, the town of Downwarren will survive. You might be able to save the Baron’s wife during “Return to Crookback Bog,” and the Baron might also survive. Their survival depends on your choices during that side quest.
WHICH SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?
There’s no clean or tidy outcome for this quest, but the most generally positive solution is to kill the Ghost in the Tree. (There’s an in-game book titled “She Who Knows” that suggests the Ghost in the Tree is the mother of the Crones you meet in “Ladies of the Wood.” The book says that She-Who-Knows is insane and led to “Velen … drowning in blood.” So maybe she’s not worth freeing.)