|This article is about the main quest. For The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt characters, see Crones. For the in-game book, see The Ladies of the Wood.|
Open Geralt's inventory and read the book The Ladies of the Wood which Keira gave to him at the end of the last quest. This book tells a fairy tale of witches, presumably the "Ladies", that will take in children and in exchange hear the pleas of those that supplicate at their shrine.
Travel to the marker however you see fit to find a shrine along the trail. Examine it for a short cutscene, then follow the path. You don't need to use Witcher Senses here as the marker will continuously update as you travel along it, eventually reaching some buildings. Approaching close enough will go into another cutscene, this time of children singing a strange rhyme. Talk to them to learn they're a group of orphans being taken care of by a woman named "Gran", who doesn't appear completely there mentally. No matter what you say, she'll refuse to talk to you and orders one of the children, Travik, inside while the rest will wander around but not say anything.
Talk to the Boy
You need to learn where Johnny is, but the one you need to talk to, Travik, is inside. Go in and try to talk with him, but Gran will keep telling you to go away while Travik suddenly appears to have a change of heart, saying Johnny isn't real. So now go talk to the other orphans to enlist their help. They'll ask you to play hide and seek with them, but you can then ask if there's something else they want, and they'll ask for treats. Note: Geralt appears to always have treats on hand, making this step very easy to do.
If you do play hide and seek, Geralt will count and they'll all hide. Simply use your Witcher Senses to follow their tracks:
- Mikula: a trail of footprints leads into the northwestern hut where she's hidden just behind the door
- Genny: a trail of footprints that go to the northeastern side of the chapel building, onto the roof, and in a haystack on the other side.
- Aynara: her footprints lead through the eastern hut and out the back window to a spot behind some bushes close to the rear corner.
- Yagna: her trail goes along the eastern side of the chapel building where she's hiding just around the corner of it, in the foliage.
Once you find the last child, or if you gave them treats instead, a cutscene shows the children distracting Gran, pulling her away from the hut, and Geralt going in and talking to Travik. You can choose to learn some about him before asking about Johnny if you wish. Once you ask about Johnny, he'll tell you the approximate location where his burrow can be found, just to the east.
Find and Help Johnny
Head out to the quest marker where you'll have to fight some drowners and a water hag before locating Johnny's trail nearby. Follow it north through the bog, where you may encounter more drowners before reaching the barrow and interacting with it to get Johnny to come out. Talking with him won't yield much, as, you might have guessed, he can't talk. He'll then motion for you to follow him. Go with him through the swamp, where he'll unwisely get too close to yet more drowners. Watch out for the beehives nearby and once clear, follow the godling once more.
If you already got the bottle, Geralt will give it to him here when he realizes Johnny wants him to retrieve something from the nest on the cliff. Otherwise, you need to make your way up there, possibly dealing with some harpies, and retrieve the bottle.
Once Johnny has the bottle, he'll uncork it and his voice will return and he'll start jabbering away. You can ask him about the Crones and Gran if you wish, and he'll eventually point out that he saw Ciri running towards the orphanage and Gran might have seen something, but she won't talk to strangers. However, she will talk to Johnny who decides to help you, so follow him back to the orphanage where he'll once again try to run straight through some drowners and a water hag again. Kill them off and continue to the orphanage, where it'll go to a cutscene. Talk however you like to the "Ladies" and they'll eventually task you with seeing Downwarren's ealdorman before they'll tell you what they know of Ciri. Gran will then give you a special dagger that you must present to the ealdorman, so he knows the Crones sent you.
Follow the map marker to Downwarren and start a conversation with the ealdorman and show him the blade which signals you were sent by the Crones. The ealdorman will immediately offer the information needed to remove an evil surrounding a nearby tree. Note: If you already completed The Whispering Hillock, you'll automatically skip to letting the ealdorman know you dealt with the spirit.
Head south to the Ancient Oak, where a voice will ask you to leave. Kill the wolves in the area, then head to the western side to find a cave entrance guarded by a werewolf who must also be killed to get inside. Follow the partially flooded path until you reach the source of all the noise: a beating "heart" trapped in the roots of the tree, which will start the quest The Whispering Hillock.
Learn What Happened to Ciri
Once the other quest is complete, talk to the ealdorman again to let him know the task has been taken care of (if you already did it, you'll automatically go to this portion of the conversation). He'll ask what you did and you can choose whatever answers you wish, though naturally he'll react more to releasing the spirit than if you killed it. Geralt will then mention payment and the ealdorman will ask for the dagger and proceed to cut off his own left ear with it before giving it to Geralt.
It'll then switch to a cutscene where Geralt is back at the orphanage, placing the ear on the rock. The Crones appear, though in a polymorphisized form, along with Gran, who they order to bring them the ear. Taking too long, one of the Crones makes a mark on Gran's hand burn and Geralt recognizes it and realizes it's the Bloody Baron's missing wife, Anna Strenger. Asking about her, the Crones reveal she made a deal with them to prevent her own unborn child from coming to term in exchange for a year of servitude. They then put her in charge of the orphans and fattening them up for the Crones, who would then eat them. Geralt will then go back to asking about Ciri, which will lead into the short quest, Fleeing the Bog.
After they finish the tale, you can react however you wish and the Crones will give a foreboding message before disappearing in a haze. The quest will then complete and Family Matters will pick back up.
- Information found in the home of Hendrik, the Nilfgaardian agent, indicated Ciri had entered into conflict with some witch in Velen. At first Geralt thought his "witch" was Keira Metz, but he later learned Hendrik had meant a different individual, one who dwelt in Crookback Bog. So the witcher ventured into the swamps, determined to find this bog-dwelling witch and ask her about Ciri.
- Hendrik had known but a portion of the truth and his notes had led Geralt astray. Ciri had in truth come into conflict with the three Crones of Crookback Bog. They had wanted to hand her over to one of the generals of the Wild Hunt name Imlerith. But Ciri escaped their clutches and fled the swamps before their vile plan could come to fruition.
- Find the Crones of Crookback Bog.
- Read "The Ladies of the Wood."
- Use your Witcher Senses to find the shrine that marks the start of the Trail of Treats.
- Go to the hut and talk to the boy.
- Find a way to lure Gran away from the hut.
- Ask the children in the swamp village about Johnny.
- If Geralt plays hide and seek:
- Find the hidden children using your Witcher Senses. 4/4
- Look for Johnny in the swamp using your Witcher Senses.
- Find Johnny's footprints.
- Follow Johnny's footprints using your Witcher Senses.
- Lure Johnny out of his burrow.
- Follow Johnny.
- Defeat the monsters.
- Follow Johnny. (150)
- If Geralt hadn't yet retrieved the bottle:
- Search the raven nest.
- Give the bottle to Johnny.
- Follow Johnny to the swamp village.
- Defeat the monsters.
- Follow Johnny to the swamp village.
- Get an audience with the Ladies (150)
- Talk to the ealdorman of Downwarren about the village's problems.
- If Geralt didn't yet do The Whispering Hillock:
- Find out what's killing villagers from Downwarren.
- Find a passage leading under the hill using your Witcher Senses.
- Explore the cave.
- Solve Downwarren's problem.
- Put the ealdorman's payment on the stone.(250)
- The Crones are likely based on the Fates (Moirai in Greek mythology and Parcae in Roman), Baba Yaga, and the Polish Rodzanice.
- If you complete The Whispering Hillock quest and freed the spirit in the process before starting the Ladies of the Wood, the conversation will appear bugged. They'll thank Gran for fattening up the orphans and watching over them, but when Geralt reveals he freed the spirit, they'll exclaim that it was the spirit that took the children. That said, in this scenario, the children aren't saved as Geralt didn't know about them prior to freeing the spirit.
- If you saw the pre-release demos, you may remember that this quest was featured in one part of that demo.
- CD PROJEKT RED has confirmed this is not a bug and is an intended consequence.