In truth, I actually started this quest only because I had to in order to end the Bloody Baron storyline. It wasn’t because this storyline wasn’t appealing, but it was marred by having to do it instead of choosing to.
If you haven’t finished everything for the main storyline in Velen then stay away from this post.
This quest started off with me fighting against Roach, trying to progress down the candied path before giving up any hope of getting the horse to co-operate and instead traversing the distance on foot. Stumbling into the village my gaming instincts were set off by a group of children. If films and games have taught me anything it’s that creepy kids indicate something odd is going on. And these children were creepy. To top it all off they seemed afraid of something, their friends kept vanishing, and a child named Johnny wasn’t around. Well, at least they seemed to love their Gran – though for all these kids to have the same Gran I was pretty certain they were adopted children. I get to meet this Gran not too long later and it appears this child talking about Johnny knew something for he was taken away. I decided to recruit the children to help me get Gran out of the hut so I could talk to the kid and, having no patience with games, bribed them with sweets.
It appears Johnny lives in the swamp, so feel suspicious that a child would live out there all alone, I head off and battle my way through to the hole in the ground that he lives in. Low-and-behold he wasn’t a child, but he can’t tell me anything because he’s lost his voice. Pointing to the top of the cliff it seems I have to go fetch his voice. After many, many, many, many failed attempts at trying to climb the cliff face I figured out it was just easier to go around. Seriously, Johnny, you couldn’t walk up to it? After being attacked by harpies I let him off and retrieved a bottle and some feathers from the nest and took the short-cut route back down to give him his voice back. I almost regretted that decision. However, after some good natured bantering he tells me about Ciri and convinces Gran to help me.
Well, I almost don’t want her help either. The entire thing is just awful. The ladies of the wood appear and I have to do their bidding in order for them to help me. I really don’t want to but we’ll do anything for Ciri.
So off I head to Downwarren to find out what problem it is I need to solve. A cursed hill. Of course. I make my way there, obviously ignoring the warning to stay away, and fighting the werewolf outside before entering and being greeted by some form of beating heart trapped under the hill. Well, it speaks – obviously – and tells me how the crones want it dead for good because it defies their will. It tells me that the orphans are in danger and only it can save them. Unsure of what to do I decide to think over it.
Cue standing there for five minutes trying to decide.
Eventually, I agree to help. Off I go to select a black horse and gather some bones – it appears I already had the feathers required from that nest earlier – and bring them all back, unsure of this entire decision. I stand firm to my initial instincts and instead free the spirit. I didn’t considering it an ‘evil’ spirit but, when talking to the ealdorman it appears Geralt does.
With that revelation I chose to just say I’d ‘dealt with it’ instead of ‘I freed an evil spirit’. It seemed like the wiser course, what they don’t know can’t kill them right? The ealdorman seems quite happy, so much so that he cuts off his ear. Aware that this is payment I’m suddenly quite happy that the spirit was free. The lesser of two evils it seems.
Well, something smelled off and now it was foul. The ladies revealed their true forms and I had an inkling of the fate those children would have had. They get extremely angry at Gran (who by this point I knew was Anna) before telling me what I wanted to know and fading away. Returning to the Baron, I told him of the fate of Anna and – on our way to get her – we travel through Downwarren. Well. That spirit doesn’t do anything in half measures. My decision to free the spirit destroyed the village, it also caused Anna’s irreversible curse, as it did as it had promised and saved the children.
I still can’t decide which is the more ideal ending. I had hoped for some more consequences of having a primal spirit inside a horse but other than Downwarren, I never saw hide or hair of it again.