Taoist priestess Yu Hsuan-chi longs for the sort of earthy experience that a woman born to her lofty station is not expected — or desired — to have. While putting in an appearance with society’s elite, she carries on a passionate affair with an itinerate swordsman named Tsui Po-hou. With both Hsuan-chi and Po-hou fighting against the tedium and hide-bound conventions of Chinese society, the two seem like a perfect match. Yet the ever restless Po-hou soon leaves her and continues on his travels. Hsuan-chi develops a reputation as an amoral libertine, partially because she is having sex with her maid Lu Chiao. After Po-hou returns and leaves her again, Hsuan-chi learns that Lu Chiao is pregnant but she refuses to divulge the name of the father. Hsuan-chi’s reaction ultimately results in tragedy.