When World War I begins, 22-year-old medical student Lucius enlists and leaves Vienna, but when he arrives at a commandeered church high in the Carpathian Mountains, he finds a freezing outpost ravaged by typhus. The other doctors have fled, leaving only a mysterious nurse named Sister Margarete. As the war rages, Lucius is falling in love with the woman from whom he must learn a brutal, makeshift medicine. Then one day, an unconscious soldier is brought in, his uniform stuffed with strange drawings. He seems beyond rescue, but Lucius will have to make a crucial decision with grave consequences.