While the quest objectives indicate that you must ask the relevant individuals for help locating Geralt's intended goal this is not actually the case. If you happen to know the locations or happen upon the patrol that was attacked or where the buckthorn is growing, you can simply go to those locations. This bypasses some interesting story parts and may affect some side quests so it is not recommended.
The hunter Edit
Head to the hunter's hut as marked on the map. Turns out he went out hunting so you'll have to go find him.
Look around near the hunter's front door to find and examine the tracks he left. Follow the tracks in the woods and talk to Mislav, the hunter, when you reach him. You can either tell him you're in a hurry and he'll take you straight to the site of the attack on the patrol or you can help him put down some wild dogs.
If you choose to help take down the dogs you can follow Mislav to a pack. You'll receive typically 9 XP for your troubles in helping to eliminate the wild dogs.
Note: You don't have to actually help kill the dogs. If you stay at a distance and let Mislav shoot arrows at the dogs he will eventually kill them all. It can take a while though as his aim isn't too sure.
Once the dogs are defeated talk to him again and he can be coaxed into revealing a sad tale of his love life and the fall into ruin of the local lord's house. Geralt will receive 350 XP when Mislav has finished his story.
After his story or, if you said you were in a hurry, Mislav will take Geralt to the site of the griffin attack. Once you're at the site you'll need to examine a few clues which can be revealed to you using your Witcher Senses.
- Bottles on the ground indicating a celebration
- Camp fire indicating the Nilfgaardians were staying the night in the area
- Blood soaked ground indicating there was substantial carnage
- Nilfgaardian tracks leading away from the camp
The herbalist Edit
Go to Tomira and talk to her. You can also unlock a secondary quest, On Death's Bed, by asking about Lena, the dying girl on the bed that she's trying to treat. The quest requires that you choose whether to give a Swallow potion to possibly save Lena (you should already have one if you are playing on the top 2 difficulties, if not you will have to brew one). Tomira will direct you to the riverbed where the river is the widest to find the buckthorn you seek.
Go to the quest marker and dive below the water. Use your Witcher Senses to find some of the buckthorn that grows on the river bed and collect it to complete this objective.
Note: On the river's edge near where you find the buckthorn is a short side quest, A Frying Pan, Spick and Span, which is convenient to complete at this time. Talk to the old lady standing outside an abandoned hut to start the quest.
Talk to Vesemir Edit
Return to White Orchard inn to find Vesemir outside speaking to a peasant about the habits of a local farmer named Boyan. If you haven't spoken to Vesemir since receiving the griffin contract you will have to tell him you accepted a contract to kill the griffin before you can tell him about your findings to setup the trap. He's already picked out a spot to spring the trap, a farmer's field presumably owned by the man named Boyan. After the conversation, meet Vesemir at the objective location to start the ambush cut scene.
Kill the griffin Edit
Have a short conversation with Vesemir in which he gives you a crossbow while you wait for the griffin.
Note: Difficulty varies substantially with difficulty level set. If you do the side quest to get the Viper school swords, the fight can be much easier. Make sure to get Swallow and Thunderbolt potions ready. The griffin is vulnerable to grapeshot bombs, hybrid oil, and Aard.
After the cutscene the battle begins. You can use the cross bow to shoot the griffin with a bolt that will make it stop flying and land. Don't hit the griffin directly from the front because it can cause some major damage. Use signs when needed.
After it is down to half health, it will fly to a nearby ridge. You can follow it on foot or on horse back. The same strategies apply to the second half of the fight. After it is dead, loot it to chop the head off for a trophy.
Collect your reward Edit
Go to the Nilfgaardian garrison to turn in the mission. The captain will tell you that Yennefer has gone to Vizima and offers you some coin as compensation for your help. Accept the money (240-300 [level dependent] XP + 150) or turn down the money (400-500 XP [level dependent]). This completes the quest and continues the main story quest, Lilac and Gooseberries.
Journal entry Edit
- The commander of the Nilfgaardian garrison in White Orchard knew where Yennefer had gone. Shrewdly, he was unwilling to share this information for free. A man with substantial experience, he knew full well Geralt would do anything to find the sorceress. As luck would have it, there was a griffin about, a beast the commander's soldiers had been unable to hunt down. The commander could demand but one thing: the monster's head in exchange for his help.
- The witcher investigated and learned that the griffin he had encountered along the high road outside of White Orchard had good reason to prey on the local populace. The soldiers the Nilfgaardian commander had sent out to scout had, in fact, killed the griffin's brooding mate. Griffins are known to mate for life, and Geralt thus felt a pang of pity for the beast. But, ever the professional, he could not let his feelings interfere with his work.
- Once it came to ambushing the feathery widower, Geralt turned to Vesemir for help. With two witchers lunging at its throat, the griffin of White Orchard proved a lamb for the slaughter. As is the way of his order, Geralt took the beast's head as his trophy and delivered it to the Nilfgaardian garrison for his reward, which, as you might remember, was to be information about Yennefer.
- Ask the herbalist about buckthorn.
- Find some buckthorn on the riverbed using your Witcher Senses.
- Ask the hunter where he found the bodies.
- Use your Witcher Senses to find the hunter.
- Kill the wild dogs.
- Talk to the hunter.
- Follow the hunter.
- Examine the site of the Nilfgaardian soldiers' death using your Witcher Senses.
- Follow the Nilfgaardian soldiers' tracks using your Witcher Senses.
- Search the griffin's nest using your Witcher Senses.
- Talk to Vesemir.
- Meet Vesemir in the field where you plan to ambush the griffin.
- Kill the griffin.
- Take a trophy from the griffin's corpse.
- Collect your reward from the Nilfgaardians.
- The cross bow awarded at the conclusion of this mission is the only weapon Geralt has available to him when swimming in water. As a result, before completing this quest it is thought that no enemies will attack Geralt while in the water so it may be a good idea to take care of as much underwater looting as possible prior to completing this quest.
- If you have happened to stumble upon some buckthorn before visiting the herbalist, Tomira, it is possible to entirely skip that portion of the quest altogether. Unfortunately, if you never visit her hut for her guidance on the buckthorn, Geralt will never meet Lenna and have a chance to save her for the On Death's Bed quest. Subsequently, if Geralt speaks to Tomira for the first time (after the griffin has been killed) the game will automatically assume the he has chosen not to give the dying girl the swallow potion. Even without prior knowledge the player will have a prompt to ask about Lenna, to which Tomira will inform Geralt that she has died. This can be very confusing and somewhat upsetting to players that have had no idea about the sidequest.