The Whispering Hillock is one of the main quests in The Witcher 3 that you will find yourself in early on in the game. The quest will start right after you are done with “Ladies of the Wood” in Crookback Bog.
You will encounter a spirit trapped inside an ancient oak tree, guarded by a werewolf. The Whispering Hillock tree is just south of the Orphans of Crookback Bog signpost in Velen so you don’t have to travel too far to find it.
Speaking with the Ealdorman will lead you to find that the spirit has been the cause of several deaths in Downwarren, a village located near the swamps in the southern part of Velen.
In the end, you will have to decide whether to kill or free the tree spirit. You might think that killing it is the logical solution, considering the number of deaths on its hands. However, it is not that simple.
Both decisions in Whispering Hillock are going to impact the main storyline as well as the world in a heart-wrenching manner. Hence, you need to know beforehand what is going to happen if you decide to free or kill the evil spirit in the ancient tree.
Killing the tree spirit is technically an evil choice as not only are you condemning orphans, but you are also empowering the Crones. So, despite being there no happy ending for any choice in Whispering Hillock, I will recommend the outcome where you help and free the tree spirit.
Where to find items for the ritual of the tree spirit
Once you decide to help the tree spirit, it will ask you to bring three items: a raven feather, the spirit’s bones, and, lastly, a wild, black horse. These items would be required to perform a ritual that will free the spirit.
First, you need to have a raven’s feather. You can find one by going to the Harpy Nest on the west side of Downwarren. Additionally, you could already have picked one up if you had completed the early quest, helping Johnny.
For the black horse, use the objective marker, as it will make the search easy. Upon seeing the horse, do not get too close and use Axii to tame it. If you somehow scared the horses away, go back to that area after a while, and all horses should be back.
Lastly, collect the remains from Crookback Bog, next to the water hag’s area. Once you reach the yellow search area, use Witcher senses to find the spirit’s grave. Interact with it to get the remains. After collecting all three items, go back to the ancient oak tree and make your way to the spirit’s gave.
If you don’t remember, there is a cave under the tree where the grave and the tree’s heart is. Make your way to that cave and follow the path to reach the evil tree spirit.
Now that it is time for the ritual, you have three choices for the next step in Whispering Hillock quest in The Witcher 3. You can either free the spirit, trick it so it dies, or kill the spirit yourself.
What happens if you free the tree spirit in The Witcher 3
If you decide to help the tree spirit instead of the Crones, continue with the ritual and do everything as it asks you to do. Once done, the spirit will assure Geralt to keep its side of the deal and run off. All the orphans would be saved, but all the other residents of Downwarren would be killed.
Losing the orphans will also make the Crones angry, and they will curse the Baron’s wife by making her a Water Hag. Geralt can remove the curse in the Baron’s questline, but that will kill Anna because the curse is the only thing keeping her alive. The loss of his dear wife will make Baron commit suicide.
If you do not speak with the Ealdorman in the Ladies of the Wood quest and free the tree spirit, everyone in Downwarren will die like before, but Anna will not be cursed to become a Water Hag. The orphans will also be saved at the same time.
Trick the spirit
If you wish to trick the spirit, you would follow all the steps of collecting the three items, but in the end, let the Spirit bleed out and die rather than let the horse drink the blood. This would have the same outcome as killing the Spirit but without the fight.
What happens if you kill the tree spirit in The Witcher 3
The last choice is to kill the spirit trapped in the tree. You can do this right after completing dialogues with the tree spirit or after collecting the three things mentioned previously. However, in every case, the spirit will call Endrega Workers for protection, but they are easy to defeat.
Eliminate the protectors and concentrate your attacks on the heart of the tree. You will be done with the fight very quickly.
The outcome of this decision will result in the orphans becoming food for the Crones. But in this scenario, you can save the village and the Baron’s wife. However, she will go insane due to her children’s death and will be taken away from Velen by her husband.
The Baron and his daughter take the woman away from Velen so they can heal her. The villagers will escape death and start worshiping the Crones again. But the orphans are not so lucky.
Ultimately, the choice to kill or free the spirit in Whispering Hillock is yours; you will lose something to save others. In each choice, there is a good and bad element, so it’s better to choose the one that you feel would be a better choice for your current playthrough. If you are not willing to sacrifice the orphans, then be ready to give away the lives of the whole villagers.
Whispering Hillock outcome if you save the tree before meeting the Crones
Players get the chance to meet the Crones before performing the ritual to free the tree spirit. If they go and meet the Crones, the outcomes of the quest would be a little different, mainly for Baron’s family.
If you do meet the Crones beforehand, the outcomes would be the same as mentioned. But if you don’t, Anna will become mad and run away. Baron would then go after her and take his daughter, too. The outcomes of children and villagers would still be determined based on whether you killed or spared the tree spirit.