Precious Cargo is a secondary quest in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It is available during the prologue quest Lilac and Gooseberries, and is accessed by speaking with the forlorn merchant, in the northwest part of the White Orchard region (south of the bog).
Note: this quest will fail if not completed before finishing Lilac and Gooseberries.
Approach the merchant and inquire about his troubles to learn that his cart and goods have become stuck in a monster infested area of the bog. He requests that Geralt help him retrieve his lost merchandise, specifically a small box that was on the cart. The first step is to find where the cart left the road just a few steps away from the merchant himself. Use Witcher Senses to identify and then examine the cart tracks that lead off into the swamp, then follow them to the missing cart. Prepare to fight a few drowners before checking the cart.
Examine the cart to find that it is riddled with arrows, a big indicator that monsters didn't attack like the merchant said. Further examination of the horse's body (also with arrows) and a corpse nearby all indicate an attack that the merchant conveniently left out.
Nearby is the locked box, which is easy enough to find with Witcher Senses, and just happens to be covered in human blood.
Head back to the merchant, where you have two choices to make: give the box to him without mentioning his lie, or point out the lie. If you simply give him the box, he'll gladly pay Geralt for the help and then be on his way (earning 25 and 20 ).
If, however, you point out that he lied, he will poorly attempt to distract Geralt before escaping on horseback. You must ride after him and attempt to knock him off his horse with either sword, crossbow, or bombs. He's not incredibly hard to catch though as long as you keep up. Note: if you let the bandit get too far away, the quest will fail.
If you manage to knock him off his horse before he reaches the insurgent camp, you won't have to fight any other bandits. However, if you fail to knock him off in time and he reaches the camp, you'll have 3 additional bandits that must be dealt with first.
As long as he didn't escape, once you catch him he'll reveal himself as John Geermer, a private in a disbanded Temerian unit that has been part of a group conducting raids on Nilfgaardian supplies. You then have 3 choices here:
- Let him go but you keep the box (10 and 50 and some alchemical ingredients)
- Let him go and give him the box (10 and 30 )
- Turn him in (10 and 30 )
After making your choice, the quest will complete.
- The merchant Geralt found standing by the side of the road in White Orchard was extremely distraught. He had been hauling some precious goods to the Nilfgaardian camp when his horse spooked and veered off the road, pulling the merchant's cart with it and dumping the whole works in the foggy swamp outside the camp. The poor horse became trapped in the muck and soon was devoured by the monsters who inevitably lurk in such places. The merchant was understandably afraid to go retrieve his goods, and thus asked the witcher to do it for him - in return for a sizable reward.
- If Geralt just returns the box without asking or investigating:
- The witcher found the merchant's priceless cargo and the grateful man repaid him in gold for his trouble. The contract had turned out to be a simple one, without any moral dilemmas or wrenching doubts about where the lesser evil lay, and to top it all off it ended with a satisfactory and immediately-paid reward - the witcher surely wished they could all be like that.
- If Geralt points out the merchant lied to him:
- Seemingly straightforward stories often turn out to be anything but. The witcher found the merchant's cart - and beside it signs of a malicious attack organized by human hands. It seemed the merchant had not told Geralt the whole truth. The confrontation that followed confirmed the witcher's suspicions - rather than stay to plead his innocence, the merchant immediately ran as fast as his legs could take him.
- If Geralt doesn't catch up to him:
- Geralt chased after the lying merchant but the scoundrel managed to give him the slip. He never did find out what really had happened out there in the murky swamps of White Orchard.
- If Geralt catches him...
- ...but refuses to give him the box:
- It turned out the "merchant" was no merchant at all, but a Temerian guerrilla. Though Geralt was skeptical about the man's chances in his partisan struggle against the mighty Nilfgaardian occupier, he decided to let him go...but kept the priceless object for himself. Perhaps he thought rewarding a cheat would not be the proper thing to do - or perhaps he was driven by a simple need for coin. It is not my place to judge, dear reader.
- ...and gives him the box:
- It turned out the "merchant" was no merchant at all, but a Temerian guerrilla. After Geralt heard the man explain his story and motives, he decided to let him go to continue his futile battle against the Nilfgaardian occupiers. Do not act so surprised, dear reader - witchers might be neutral by principle, but it was no secret where Geralt's sympathies lay in the struggle between the Northern Realms and the Nilfgaardian Empire.
- ...and turns him in to the Nilfgaardians:
- It turned out the "merchant" was no merchant at all, but a Temerian guerrilla. With his back against the wall, the soldier called on high ideals and Geralt's sense of patriotism in order to convince the witcher of the worthiness of his cause - but to no avail, for Geralt nevertheless handed him over to the nearest Nilfgaardian outpost. The witcher was clearly of the opinion that someone who acts like a bandit should end like a bandit, no matter how lofty his declared motives.
- Find the little box the merchant mentioned using your Witcher Senses.
- Use your Witcher Senses to find where the cart left the road.
- Find the cart.
- Look around the cart for evidence about the attack using your Witcher Senses.
- Return the box to the merchant.
- If Geralt confronts the merchant about his lie:
- Chase down the merchant.
- Knock the merchant off his horse.
- If you give the box to the merchant without seeing through his lies he will get on his horse and immediately ride to the bandit camp that he would have fled to if you were to see through his lies. There will be no bandits there however.