Towards the end of the Eastern Han dynasty, China is split into three kingdoms. As regent for the young emperor, Cao Cao gains control over the feudal lords. His third son, Zhi, a handsome and suave young man, is in love with the gifted beauty Zhen Mi. However, Cao makes Zhi marry another girl. Meanwhile, rewarding his triumphant return from war, Cao allows Pi, his eldest son, to pick his wife. Bent on taking away his younger brother’s love, Pi asks his father for permission to marry Mi.
On the wedding night, the drunken Pi tells Mi that he is afraid that Zhi would succeed his father and has been trying to kill Zhi. Astonished, Mi writes a letter to warn Zhi. Because of Pi’s machinations, Zhi is sent into exile in Linzi. Eventually, Cao dies of illness and Pi succeeds his father.
Pi begins to purge dissidents. He makes Mi write a letter to lure Zhi to the capital. Zhi insists on returning to meet Mi. Upon his return, Pi orders Zhi to compose a poem entitled “Brothers” within seven walking steps. Looking at Mi and remembering their past love, Zhi accomplishes the challenging task. Bowing to his talent,Pi allows his brother to return to Linzi. As Pi repents his misdeeds, Mi leaves on the pretext, pretending to observe the seasonal ritual in the mountain, and throws herself into the Luo River.