A young nun is found violated and murdered, while the brother and sister she was escorting have disappeared. A mysterious forest ranger dedicates himself to rescuing the children, while Brother Oswin blames himself for Sister Hilaria's death. Cadfael must identify the killer and do what he can to aid in the children's rescue.
On a cold winter's night, Brother Oswin is attacked by several men and left for dead in the snow. He is found and brought to the Abbey but is unconscious most of the time only waking occasionally, raving and crying out in terror. There are bandits in the area attacking travelers and some of the farmers and everyone assumes they are the ones who attacked Oswin. They learn that he had met a nun, Sister Hilaria and her two wards Yves and Ermina Hugonin, on the road and accompanied them to their destination, the manor of Robert Botteril, who Ermina is to marry. The bandits attacked in the night however with Oswin and Sister Hilaria being separated from the children. They spent the night together in an old barn and it was during this time that Oswin was attacked. In looking for the children in the forest, Brother Cadfael finds the dead Sister Hileria, violated and frozen in the ice from a stream. The children are found and the monks learn of a good Samaritan who is rescuing people in the forest. It is left to Brother Cadfael however to determine who attacked Sister Hilaria and clear Brother Oswin who stands accused of the crime.
- Cadfael (Sir Derek Jacobi) turns to his knowledge of medicine and nature to clear the name of a much-loved novice and discover the truth behind the death of a young woman found frozen at the bottom of a brook. In unravelling this haunting mystery, Cadfael begins to udnerstand that his days as a man of the world aren't so easily left in the past. (from DVD jacket)