|Important Items in this Area|
|Aen N'og Mab Taedh'morc||Letter of Safe Conduct|
|Diagram: Griffin Steel Sword||Treasure Key|
|Witcher George's Confession||Trader's Notes|
|Alder Folk Boots||Crafting Notes|
|Transit Pass||Diagram: Griffin Silver Sword|
|In Beast's Clothing||Dobromir's Journal|
Before you head off to the swamps in south-east Velen, there’s a bit of exploration that was skipped over. Not only would it be nice to take care of it for the sake of completionism, but a significant weapon upgrade is LONG overdue. The next few sections, then, will be devoted to the task of getting yourself some new gear and with such equipment in hand (and the power it brings) clearing out areas previously ignored… namely the areas along the coast west of Midcopse and Blackbough.
Making use of this gear is contingent upon you being level eleven, or at least within striking range. If you’ve been following the guide, you should easily be in that range, as doing the above quests - even on Death March difficulty - should have been enough to get you to level ten. If you can’t be bothered to explore and gather some sweet loot, skip ahead to the "Ladies of the Wood - The Trail of Treats" section, where "Forefather’s Eve" will be continued, along with the main story.
Start out your journey by traveling to the Codger’s Quarry signpost and head north along the road until you return to the sundered bridge near which was the Nekker nest you blew up earlier (you did do that bit of exploration, right?). Cross the bridge to the west, clearing the gap with a mighty running leap, then follow the road beyond into and through a swamp. The road largely does a fine job of keeping your feet dry until you reach another stone bridge which has utterly failed in the face of the elements. Drop down into the water and cross to the dirt road to the north to reach a crumbling fortress; Hindhold. If you’re traveling at night you may run into some Foglets (level four) in the swamp, but traveling by day should see you reach Hindhold unimpeded. Approach the fort to discover the Hindhold signpost, but you’ll also have to deal with some Endrega Workers (level nine) and Endrega Warriors (level eleven) when you reach the ruins.
Monster Nest (Level 7)
Once the Endrega (and perhaps Foglets) are dead, search along the southern end of the island to find a doorway you can use to gain entry to the keep,]. On the ground floor of the keep you can find plenty of containers to loot (your reward for getting past the Endregas). Near a closed and blocked gate south of some stairs leading to the upper reaches of the keep you’ll find the note "Aen N’og Mab Taedh’morc" .
Go up the stairs to reach an exterior, elevated part of the keep, which just so happens to be infested with Harpies (levels five and seven) Cut them down, then locate their nest near some stair and blow it up. Once done head through a doorway east of the nest to find a skeleton and a chest to loot. The skeleton can be searched for the "Diagram: Griffin Steel Sword" and "Balsick’s Letter" . Picking up the latter starts the quest "Scavenger Hunt: Griffin School Gear" . In the nearby chest you’ll find, among other gear, "Witcher George’s Confession" .
|For destroying the monster nest||20 XP|
The next part of the quest can be somewhat hard to get, mostly because it’s guarded by a powerful foe. It can be done, however, and it’ll be a significant upgrade to your current silver sword. Might as well use this as an excuse to explore all the non-story-related areas in between Hindhold and where the diagram for the Griffin Silver Sword can be found, right? At least, all those within your means.
Death by Fire (Level 10)
Now that you have the locations of the Griffin gear, it’s time to go about collecting it! And exploring everything along the way. You knew what you were getting into. Anywho, leave Hindhold behind and head south-west if you’re feeling loot-frisky, as you can find the remains of an ill-fated camp along the shore of the swamp, complete with numerous containers to loot for meager goods. Once done continue south uphill to reach a road along which you’ll find some Bandits hanging around outside a house. A burning house. Approach and they’ll admit they set the fire, and threaten to… well, it’s rude.
Either leave them to their cooking, or stand up for their victim. In the case of the latter, you’ll have to kill the Bandits (level ten). Once done, use Aard on the junk in front of the door, then head inside the burning house. Smoke inhalation works like drowning-you only have so much time before you start to suffocate. The elf woman is smart enough to get herself out of there, but you should be sure to loot a shelf before you get around to proving you’re as smart as she is. Once outside, talk to her and she’ll reward you by telling you about some cash she stashed… which it’s just not safe for her to have anymore. With that, she departs. Loot the bandits, as one of them will drop Relic-quality boots "Alder Folk Boots" , which are most likely better than what you’ve got on now.
When you’re reach to collect the stash, head behind the house to find a log lying on the ground, which will glow red under your Witcher Senses. Loot it to obtain the elf’s cache, a whopping twenty Crowns. Oh, that poor, destitute peasant…
|For saving the elf||25 XP|
Continue west along the road from the burning house (or along the coast, as you prefer) and you should end up at a refugee camp of sorts, clogged by the humanity caught in Velen, desperately trying to flee across the Pontar to get out from between the two armies. Unfortunately for many it’s a slow - if not fruitless - project. There’s a few quests you can perform here, mostly centered around getting an all important pass which will allow you to cross the Pontar to reach Novigrad, a pass you don’t need, thanks to the Bloody Baron, but there’s no reason you can’t take care of some of the quests here, anyways. If you’ve been following the guide and hence have a pass, visit the small, fortified island bridging the Pontar that serves as a checkpoint for this crossing to discover the Border Fort signpost.
|For using the Axii Sign on the Redanian Soldier||25 XP|
Note: If you didn’t have a pass already and came to this area before progressing "Family Matters" you’ll be accosted by some Redanian soldiers on the bridge, who deny you passage and hence start the quest "Thou Shall Not Pass ". You can bribe the guard or use Axii to get him to give you more information.
Return to the camp south of the Redanian fort and look around for a "Shady Merchant". Talk to him and he’ll offer to sell you a pass for the low, low price of 100 Crowns. Okay, that’s not so low. That kind of sucks. Either pay him for your pass or play the cheapskate. In the latter case, he’ll offer you a discount if you do a little job for him. His brother-in-law is busy looting the battlefield to the south, but like all scenes of slaughter, it’s drawn Necrophages. Guard his brother and he’ll give you a discount. This starts the quest "Bitter Harvest". Since the latter is worth some Crowns and experience, there’s no reason you shouldn’t lend a hand… or you can just use the Axii sign (if you’ve invested in it a bit) after getting the job offer to score a fine discount (50 Crowns), and a nice XP bonus for using the sign. You’ll also get an XP bonus equal to 10% of however much you paid on the "Transit Pass".
|For using the Axii Sign on the Shady Merchant||40 XP|
Note: There’s nothing preventing you from buying the pass from the Shady Merchant and then going to take the job of protecting Albin Hart on your own initiative. If you doubt your ability to protect Albin and his crew, you might be best off securing a "Transit Pass" before taking on the quest "Bitter Harvest" .
Bitter Harvest (Level 9)
Head down to the battlefield and search for a man named Albin Hart, although you may have to dispatch a few Ghouls (level nine) before you can talk to him. Once you do, you’ll find that he’s pretty straight-forward. He’ll offer to pay you to get rid of the Necrophages around here. Agree, then head south and wait for your prey to arrive. Fight off several waves of Necrophages, including two waves of three Ghouls (level seven) then a group including a Rotfiend (level eight) and two Ghouls, then finally another group of three Ghouls. You have to be diligent on this quest, as the Necrophages are shameless about going after Albin Hart and his subordinates.
After the Necrophages are dead, talk to one of the survivors (preferably Albin Hart). Depending on how many people survived you’ll get 20, 50, 70, or 100 Crowns, and 50 XP. Return to the Shady Merchant and tell him the good news, which will prompt him to lower the price of the pass to 25 Crowns. If Albin died, he’ll decide to be a jerk an refuse to sell you the pass, even though you can use the Axii Sign on him and go through the motions (complete with experience) but you won’t get a pass.
|For fighting off the necrophages||50 XP / 20, 50, 70 or 100 Crowns|
Note: If you’re playing on Death March difficulty, you may want to secure the Griffin Silver Sword before even bothering with this quest, as Albin and his crew will fall over and die if a Necrophage even so much as looks at them.
If you failed to get a pass here, or you just want to do some more questing, good news! Head over to the Notice Board near the bridge and take the notice "Contract: Woodland Beast" to start a quest by the same name. Talk to the nearby Captain of the Guard and ask about the notice to learn that some critter in the swamp has been raiding their supplies, and now they’re in a sorry state. In exchange for the beast’s head he’ll offer some cash and a pass. Sounds good.
Hungry Children (Level 4)
Head along a road south-west from the camp until you reach a four-way split in the path. From here continue along a road to the south (ignore the western road, as it leads to a cave where the quest "Contract: Missing Brother" takes place, which is well above your level) until you reach a three-way junction, at which juncture you’ll want to head west, and continue west (not north-west) when the path splits again. Along the way you’ll spot a house to the north, and since it has a cute little quest marker, we might as well check it out.
Walk up to the house and slaughter a Wild Dog (level four), then listen to some children scheme inside, after which Geralt will coax them out. This collection of unrelated kids lost their parents either through war, or simple abandonment, as you’ll learn if you ask about their parents. Either give them Crowns, food, or nothing. The middle choice seems best, since having coin might just make them more of a target. If you read the book "In Beast’s Clothing" you’ll get a bestiary entry for Ulfhedinn and Werewolves, as well as the formula for Werewolf Decoction.
|For giving the children money or food||10 XP / Doll / In Beast's Clothing|
Contract: Woodland Beast (Level 6)
Continue along the road to the south-west until you find the quest marker east of the road. Veer off into the wilderness and slay a pair of Alghouls (level five). Kill them, then activate your Witcher Senses and search the wreckage. Examining the bodies and some crates suggests that this wasn’t the work of monsters.
After you’re done searching follow a trail to the south and the search area will shift to accommodate the tracks. Follow them south-west, over a road, and down to a river ford, where you’ll have to dispatch a half-dozen Drowners (level four) then follow the footprints on the opposite bank up a hill. A short distance later, Geralt will be spotted by some Scoia’tael, who are, as usual, suspicious of the motives of any human.
You have two options here; agree to surrender your weapons and go talk to the Scoia’tael leader, or you can pick a fight for challenging their genocidal actions or by pretending you’re out for a stroll. Humorless elves… If you do the latter, you’ll have to put down a group of Scoia’tael (level five) and their leader, Vernossiel (level nine). Even if you plan to pick a fight later, for now it’s best to agree to surrender your weapons and meet their leader.
Once you meet their leader, you again get the option to pick a fight (this time unarmed!) or agree to leave and forget what you saw here. For making the latter, wiser choice (in the Scoia’tael’s eyes at least) you’ll be given a reward. Perhaps an incentive for good behavior? You can now choose to return to the Captain and tattle on the Scoia’tael (which will earn you the pass, but not the coin) or you can, after agreeing to leave the Scoia’tael alone, simply murder them, loot their camp, and tell the Captain about your good deed, which earns you the full reward from both sides, and prompts the Captain to decide that the only way to pacify the nonhumans is by pouring gasoline on a fire… Either way, be sure to get your pass.
|For promising to leave the Scoia'tael alone||Silk / Tracker's Trousers / Wolf Hide x6 / Allspice x2|
|For telling the captain the location of the Scoia'tael||25 XP / Letter of Safe Conduct|
|For telling the captain you killed the Scoia'tael||25 XP / 30 Crowns / Letter of Safe Conduct|
|For telling the captain you're not very good at your job||25 XP|
Note: If you expose the Scoia’tael to the Redanians, their leader will show up near Novigrad to air her grievances with you, ultimately forcing you to finish what the Redanians started.
Anyways, one way or another you now have a pass to get into Novigrad, so return to the guards, flash your new pass, and walk on past. This will work to get you into the Border Post island, as well as into Oxenfurt… but you were already there, right? Anyways, you’re done with the Border Post, time to keep exploring westward.
|For showing the guard your swanky new pass||75 XP|
Note: If you already got a pass from the Bloody Baron, you won’t be able to show off your new-found credentials to the Redanians. Shame.
Hidden Treasure: The Things Men Do for Coin (Level 12)
From the Border Post signpost make your way to the water and swim west to an island, where a Hidden Treasure event awaits… alternatively you could just follow the coast west, then north to reach the same place. The signature feature here is a mound of burning corpses. Lovely. There are also some Nekkers (level six) guarding this area, which shouldn’t be any trouble. At the Hidden Treasure marker you’ll find a dead Dwarf near a watch tower. Search his body for a "Treasure Key" and a "Letter" , which starts the quest "The Things Men Do For Coin…" . Read the latter to update the quest, then follow a trail to the south-to the mound of corpses. Use Aard on the mound of corpses to put the fire out, then search near some wooden debris to find a container with some choice loot inside.
Monster Nest (Level 6)
Swim west again to reach another island, where the remains of some military camp is evident. Now, however, the area houses a Rotfiend nest. Dispatch the Rotfiends (level six), then blow up and loot the nest, before searching the camp for some loot, including a chest with exceptional loot inside of it at the end of a road, near the shore north of the Rotfiend Nest. Near a small boat to the west of the nest you can find a dead trader with some "Trader’s Notes " on them.
|For destroying the monster nest||20 XP|
Spoils of War (Level 4)
Leave the island and swim south-west to find a "Spoils of War" event in the water. You’ll have to dive to get at two chests resting on the sea floor, and you might be harassed by some Drowners (level four). Shoot them with your crossbow, as it’s your only means of defending yourself while under water. Loot the chests, surface, then continue swimming west, avoiding the island to the south entirely, and instead keep on swimming to the one beyond it to the west. The island you ignored (the one with the Inn at the Crossroads on it) has a Forktail (level 18) along the northern hills that’s just looking for a low-level Witcher to snack on. Don’t be that guy.
Place of Power
Swim around until you reach a small island along the north-western edge of the larger island. Along the eastern coast of this small island you should find a Place of Power, which is good for another Ability Point. Draw it and note the light house on the cliffs above you. Also note the raised drawbridge that connects the light house to the mainland. Clearly you’re not getting up there that way. Ironically, you’re going to have to swim down to reach dry land above.
Entrance (Level 10)
Dive off the south-eastern end of the island to find a cave leading under where the Place of Power stands. Drowners (level ten) pollute the water here. Again, use the crossbow to thin their numbers if you have to, or just swim past them. Eventually you’ll come to cliff you can scale, so surface and do so. Your reward for your daring swim is a check full of superior loot just east of the water. Nearby you’ll find some rocks you can scale. Do so twice, then climb a ladder to reach Lornruk.
Lornruk (Level 14)
Head up some stairs, loot a chest and a parcel, then head up more stairs and loot two chests and three parcels. Score. Head through a doorway to the south-west, then turn south-east and use a winch to lower the drawbridge. Run across the drawbridge to discover the "Lornruk" signpost. It’s also a good time to save your game, in case something goes wrong.
Return to Lornruk and head to the door you came out of. There’s a ladder here which leads to an upper level, where you’ll find two chests to loot, a grindstone, and some other containers. You’re here for the chest next to the grindstone, along the south-eastern wall. Unfortunately the place is guarded by a territorial Wyvern (level fourteen) which will make short work of a low-level Witcher. Fortunately, at level eleven, this critter is beatable, even on Death March difficulty.
Try to get its attention by approaching the tower while it flies around (shoot at it with your crossbow if necessary), and when it notices you, run across the drawbridge to the south, where you’ll find better ground to fight on. The Wyvern fights very similarly to The Shrieker and the Royal Griffin you dispatched some time ago, except its ground game is weaker. Shoot it out of the skies when it flies, perform the standard strong attack and dodge combo, and keep Quen up to protect from incidental hits and you’ll whittle it down just fine.
When the beast is dead return across the drawbridge and climb the ladder along the square building that leads down to the caves under Lornruk. When you’re up here, loot the containers scattered around, and especially the chest which contains the "Crafting Notes" and the "Diagram: Griffin Silver Sword" . If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also loot the tower nearby, as there are containers worth searching on the first floor and the third. Near the chest on the third floor is the note "Dobromir’s Journal" .
Note: After completing some main quests, the Wyvern here will be driven off and some students - presumably from Oxenfurt - will be rummaging around here.
Harpy Feeding Ground
From here if you follow the road south-east, the south until it bisects a road running north-east you’ll find the "Harpy Feeding Ground" signpost, which is fittingly infested with Harpies (level seven). There’s also a chest lying around nearby for you to loot if you can clear out enough of the pests to see to it. This has nothing to do with obtaining any Griffin gear, but it’s worth doing, since you’re so close to it. Exploration, and all!
The next part of the quest requires you to fight another powerful foe, which will be much easier once you’re level eleven and possess the Griffin Silver Sword. Fortunately the area where the armor is located close to where the "Ladies of the Wood" quest takes place. How convenient! You get to nab some more Witcher gear and make progress towards the next story mission. Seems like a no-brainer, eh?