Zhu Bian, a loyal minister of the SongDynasty, goes to Jin as an envoy to plead for the return of the two former emperors of Song. The emperor of Jin detains Zhu and attempts to force him to defect. Defiant in the face of the threat of death, Zhu is exiled to the Cold Mountain as a herdsman. Princess Xuehua of Jin, moved by his loyalty and admiring his talent, falls in love with Zhu. With the princess’s help, Zhu is finally able to return to Song. Although Zhu can hardly bear to part with the princess, loyalty and duty take precedence.
Back in Song, the returned envoy is accused of being a Jin spy. Zhu’s family is executed and he is sentenced to die from a cup of poisoned wine. Filled with indignation, sorrow and shame because he will no longer be of help to his country, the loyal minister is ready to comply. At the last moment, the Jintroops arrive and the princess knocks over the cup of poisoned wine. During the bloody battle, the crown prince of Jin wounds the princess. Before she dies, Xuehua encourages Zhu to save the nation, and expresses sorrow that their love cannot survive the troubled times. Zhu is left with nothing but grief and regret.