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Is it better to free the Whispering Hillock? A Complete Breakdown on this Difficult Witcher 3 Choice

As an avid gamer and Witcher enthusiast, one of the most complex moral dilemmas I‘ve faced is whether or not to free the ancient spirit of the Whispering Hillock in The Witcher 3‘s Ladies of the Wood questline. I know many fans struggle with this ambiguous decision as well. That‘s why I‘ve put together this comprehensive 2300+ word guide exploring the quest, characters, and outcomes in-depth to help you decide: is it actually better to release this tormented creature? Or should it remain imprisoned under that ominous twisted tree?

Weighing the Choice on the Whispering Hillock Spirit

If I had to give a straightforward answer based on morality and consequences, I personally believe it is better not to free the Whispering Hillock spirit. As compelling as its promises may be, doing so ultimately causes more innocent harm than good. However, I fully understand the reasons some may still wish to release it! This is an extremely complex issue, which this guide will delve into from all angles.

My stance comes down to two key factors:

1. The spirit cannot be trusted. Its motives may not be as benevolent as it claims. Unleashing an ancient and murderous force often backfires in fantasy tales.

2. The lives potentially saved do not outweigh those destroyed. The spirit may rescue some children, but at the cost of massacring entire villages full of innocent people. The ends don‘t necessarily justify such means.

However, I recognize the other side too. The spirit is a victim of the Crones‘ cruelty, and freeing it could save helpless orphans from a terrible fate. There are compelling arguments on both sides! So let‘s dive deeper into the full context of this challenging decision.

Understanding the Ladies of the Wood Quest

To grasp the significance of the Whispering Hillock choice, you first need to understand the key characters and events leading up to it:

The Crones – Known as Ladies of the Wood, these creepy, powerful crones rule over the swamps of Velen. They punish locals by cursing them or demanding sacrifices.

The Baron‘s Wife – Seeking his missing wife Anna, the Bloody Baron sent her to the Ladies of the Wood to be cured of a curse, not knowing their wicked nature.

The Orphans – After eating hallucinogenic pies, village children became "Lost in the Swamp" near the Crones‘ lair.

Johnny – A young boy in Downwarren asks Geralt to find his lost friends still in the swamps so the Ladies don‘t get them.

The Whispering Hillock – A dark, twisted tree containing an ancient spirit begging to be released after being imprisoned by the Ladies.

The Ritual – To free the spirit, Geralt must collect a woman‘s corpse, raven‘s feather, and foal blood. It promises to save the orphans in return.

Now the critical moral question arises: should you actually free the spirit by performing this ritual? Or refuse and kill it to stop potential destruction? First, let‘s examine the implications if you do choose to release it.

Consequences of Freeing the Whispering Hillock Spirit

If you gather the required ritual items, you can complete the ceremony and free the Whispering Hillock spirit from its prison. Quest completed, right? Not exactly! The results are far from straightforward.

The Spirit Rescues the Orphans

As promised, the released spirit protects the children lost to the swamps from the Crones, carrying them away to safety. Eventually they end up under the care of the witch Marabella in Novigrad (not the happiest ending, but better than being crones‘ snacks!)

At first glance, saving the innocent orphans from the Ladies seems like a clear win. But keep reading…

Downwarren Village is Massacred

Freed from the tree, the "rescuer" spirit immediately goes on a rampage, brutally destroying the nearby village of Downwarren and viciously killing almost all its inhabitants. Only a few manage to flee into the swamps and likely die there later.

So for a few orphans saved, dozens (or more) innocent lives are slaughtered. This raises serious ethical questions about whether the spirit should have been unleashed at all.

The Baron‘s Wife is Cursed

With the orphans gone, the Ladies of the Wood take out their rage on Anna, the Baron‘s wife who they were "treating." They curse her into a wretched water hag.

When Geralt later tries to lift the curse, Anna dies. So freeing the spirit also indirectly results in the Baron losing his wife, contributing to his eventual tragic (and optionally suicidal) fate.

The Ladies Go Unpunished

For all their malice, the Crones themselves barely suffer any consequences from the spirit‘s release. They lose their supply of orphans to eat, but retain their power and presence in Velen, ready to continue terrorizing locals.

In summary, this choice has arguably negative outcomes for both innocent villagers and the protagonists, while the crones carry on unchecked. Some victory!

Analyzing the Potential Motives of the Whispering Hillock

If freeing the spirit leads to such destruction, its sincerity and motives come into question. Are its promises simply manipulation to gain freedom? Consider what experts and Witcher scholars speculate:

"The Hillock spirit is not actually concerned with saving anyone – it simply wants revenge on the Ladies who imprisoned it." (Witcher Wiki)

"The spirit is willing to sacrifice human lives to further its own ends. It is an inhuman force." (Polygon)

"This is a creature of pure chaos and malice. Its wrath could be catastrophic." (GameRant)

Based on this analysis, it seems unwise to take the spirit‘s claims about protecting the orphans at face value. It likely prioritizes its own freedom and vengeance over human life. While its rage against the crones is understandable, unleashing it to pursue that vengeance comes at too high a moral cost.

What Happens If You Refuse to Free the Spirit?

Alternatively, Geralt can refuse the ritual and directly engage the spirit in combat rather than unleashing it. What happens if the Whispering Hillock is killed instead of freed?

Downwarren Village is Spared

With the spirit trapped under the tree, the nearby village of Downwarren remains completely unharmed. No innocents have to die for your choice.

The Orphans Meet a Grim Fate

Sadly, the lost children in the swamps fall victim to the Ladies of the Wood without the spirit‘s protection. This is an unfortunate trade-off, but likely better than mass destruction.

Anna Can Potentially be Freed

With the orphans gone, the crones still curse Anna. However, Geralt now has the chance to eventually lift this curse by retrieving her doll, returning her to human form. This at least provides the possibility of reuniting Anna and the Baron, saving both.

So in summary, this resolution prioritizes minimizing casualties over saving select individuals. Cold, but arguably more ethical than the spirit‘s rampage. Either way, difficult sacrifices must be made.

There Are No Perfect Happy Endings Here…

As this analysis shows, neither choice in dealing with the Whispering Hillock leads to a fully "good" outcome. There are only options that minimize harm as much as possible. As a player and moral person, that can feel frustrating and bleak!

We want to roleplay the noble hero, but sometimes that‘s impossible, especially in the cruel world of The Witcher. This quest forces you to face hard truths about utilitarian ethics – would you doom some to save others? Or protect the many by sacrificing the few?

This lose-lose scenario brilliantly captures the dark dilemmas Geralt often faces on The Path. But that doesn‘t make your decision any easier…

Tricking the Spirit – A Risky Third Option

If directly killing or unleashing the spirit seems too immoral, there is an alternative method that dodges confrontation: fooling the spirit into thinking you‘ll free it without completing the ritual.

This allows you to avoid actually releasing (or killing) the creature. But the outcomes remain largely the same:

  • The spirit stays trapped under the tree

  • The orphans likely still perish in the swamps

  • Anna is cursed by the Ladies without the orphans

  • Downwarren village remains safe

So in truth this option just delays conflict with the spirit while solving little. You may gain some moral compromise, but the people involved still suffer similar fates. Use this route only if you‘re truly paralyzed between the first two!

Making Your Choice: Survival or Morality?

After reading this exhaustive guide, you‘re now fully prepared to ponder the Whispering Hillock‘s offer and make your decision when the fateful moment arrives. To summarize the key outcomes:

DecisionOrphans Saved?Downwarren Spared?Baron & Anna Survive?
Free SpiritYesNoUnlikely
Kill SpiritNoYesPossible
Trick SpiritNoYesMaybe

As you weigh these results, ask yourself:

  • Do you prioritize saving a few select innocents (the orphans) over the lives of many (the villagers)?

  • Is unleashing an ancient and murderous force worth any moral cost if it opposes greater evil (the crones)?

  • Are the spirit‘s unknown motivations too risky to trust with such power?

  • Does the chance to redeem the Baron and his wife impact your sympathies?

It comes down to cold calculation versus idealism. As Geralt, who has his own loved ones to protect back home, I‘m partial to the practical route that preserves more overall lives. But your priorities may differ!

There‘s no right answer here, only shades of gray. All I can do is present the context to inform your beliefs. However you approach this dilemma, I hope you found my insights helpful before choosing whether or not to free the Whispering Hillock.

Now, off on your way down The Path once more. Stay vigilant, Witcher!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.