The Witcher 3: A Guide To In The Heart Of The Woods

Some quests in the Witcher 3 can make you really struggle with questions of morality and deciding what is right and wrong. A witcher contract quest in Skellige titled In the Heart of the Woods is one of the best examples of this in the entire game.

As part of this quest, Geralt will need to choose sides between two factions in a local village. How you decide to act will determine the life and death of in-game characters, as well as deciding the fate of the village for years to come. Here’s everything you need to know about In the Heart of the Woods.

How to Activate

There are two ways to begin this quest. The first involves finding a note on a notice board requesting help. This notice board is at the Kaer Trolde Harbor. Just look for the notice titled “Contract: Woodland Spirit.” You can also activate this quest by running into the group of people on the road just southwest of Fayrlund, which is where the quest takes place as well.

It turns out there is some type of monster in the area that has been harming and killing hunters. Two groups, one led by Harald and one led by Sven, are arguing over what to do about the problem.

Approach the area and you’ll see a body that has been seemingly attacked by tree branches, with a group of people arguing.

Two Sides

So, what’s going on? The village is split on how to handle the problem. Harald and the other elders believe the spirit should be left alone. Their idea is that it makes villagers into strong warriors. Sven, one of the younger men in the village, believes it to be a common beast that is killing anyone who gets too close.

You don’t have to decide who to side with quite yet. First, you’ll need to figure out what exactly the creature is. After a short investigation into the trail, you’ll find a dead dog and another body. Soon enough, you’ll have to face off against some wolves near a ring of stones.

After they’ve been dealt with, Geralt will notice some scratch marks. He’ll deduce that it’s a leshen, an ancient woodland creature with immense powers. Check the bestiary to learn more about these creatures. After realizing what it is, Geralt will earn 10 experience points.

Take a Side

The time has now come that you must choose a side between the elders and the younger villagers. Harald believes the leshen is helping create strong warriors from the villagers, maybe the strongest in Skellige, even if it is killing some of them. He says you should offer a sacrifice to reinstate the ancestral pact with the leshen. Sven believes it should be killed. However, you’ll need to do something about the “marked” one in the village, or the leshen will just be reborn again.

If you decide to side with Harald, you’ll need to form the pact with the leshen. If you choose with Sven, you’ll need to find the marked individual. Note: if you side with Harald, you’ll miss out on an achievement, if you’re playing on PlayStation, PC, or Xbox.

If You Side with Harald

Read this section if you decide to side with Harald.

Head to the altar in the forest and five white wolves will appear. You’ll have to defeat all five and collect their hearts. Place them on the altar and wait for the leshen to accept the offering, which will then give you 20 experience points. Return to Fayrlund and speak with Harald.

During this conversation, Sven will approach with another person, and they’ll say that they killed the other elders and they are coming for Harald next. You can choose to intervene or not. If you decide to protect him, you’ll need to fend off Sven and the other man before they get to Harald, as they still can if you choose this option. If you choose not to get involved, the other two will kill Harald. Either way, you’ll earn 50 experience points and 60 crowns.

If You Side with Sven

Read this section if you decide to take Sven’s side in the matter.

The first thing you’ll need to do is find the marked person. Since you’re dealing with a leshen, you’ll want to follow the crows. You’ll find a bunch of them on the roof on the western side of the village.

Using your Witcher Senses will reveal the marked person, Hilde. This young woman seems to have a romantic involvement with Sven, complicating matters. Return to Sven with this news and tell him that the person can be killed or exiled. Then, tell him it’s Hilde.

Sven will agree to whichever method you choose. After this, you’ll need to head back into the woods. Find three totems and destroy them, summoning the leshen. Now, you’ll have to fight it.

Fighting the Leshen

Read this section if you sided with Sven.

Leshens are not easy foes. They will summon crows and wolves as part of their attack arsenal. They’ll also use their arms to stab at you through the ground via tree roots. This attack is pretty strong, causing good damage to Geralt and hitting a wide area. They’ll also swipe at you with their claws.

Watch for them to raise both of their arms in the air. This signifies a move where the leshen disappears in a swirl of smoke and rematerializes nearby. A Moon Dust bomb can prevent this move from occurring.

You can use relict oil, Dragon’s Dream bombs, Igni, and other fire-based attacks to get the upper hand on the leshen. While on fire, they’re unable to attack.

After you’ve defeated it, you’ll earn 50 experience points. Grab the leshen trophy and return to the village. As you’re approaching Fayrlund, though, you’ll notice that something’s very wrong. Sven, while you were gone, decided to round up the elders and kill them off.

Sven will tell you that your work is done, and so is his. There’s nothing you can do from this point. The quest completes, earning you another 50 experience and 60 crowns.

Other Info

It’s important to note that you’ll miss out on the achievement Woodland Spirit on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC if you side with Harald. You can create a new save before making your choice in order to complete this quest both ways.

It’s also important to note that siding with Harald, and therefore not killing the leshen, will lock you out of finding an ancient leshen mutagen, needed for the ancient leshen decoction. However, if you have the Hearts of Stone DLC Expansion, you’ll have another chance to obtain this.


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Michael is a journalist with several years of experience writing about video games, television, and social issues. He loves indie platformers, Pokémon, and Hack ‘n Slashers.

Currently playing: Cities: Skylines, Hyrule Warriors, and Stardew Valley.

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