In medieval Sweden, prosperous Christian Per Töre sends his daughter, Karin, to take candles to the church. Karin is accompanied by her pregnant servant Ingeri, who secretly worships the Norse deity Odin. Along their way through the forest on horseback, Ingeri becomes frightened when they come to a stream-side mill and admonishes Karin; but Karin chooses to proceed on her own leaving Ingeri at the mill.
Ingeri encounters a one-eyed man at the stream-side mill. When Ingeri asks about his name he enigmatically responds he has none "in these days". The man tells Ingeri that he can see and hear things others can not. When the man makes sexual advances towards her and promises her power, Ingeri flees in terror. Meanwhile, Karin meets three herdsmen, two men and a boy, and invites them to eat her lunch with her. Eventually, the two older men rape and murder Karin. Ingeri, after having caught up to the group, witnesses the whole ordeal hidden from a distance. The two older men then prepare to leave the scene with Karin's clothing. The younger boy is left with the body, but he takes the situation poorly, and is racked with guilt. He even tries to bury the body by sprinkling dirt but stops midway, and runs along with the older men.
The herders then, unknowingly, seek shelter at the home of the murdered girl. During the night, one of the goat herders offers to sell Karin's clothes to her mother, and she suspects the worst. After they fall asleep, the mother locks the trio in the dining chamber and reveals her suspicions to Töre. Töre prepares to discover the truth about the situation and encounters Ingeri, who has also returned. She breaks down in front of Töre and tells him about the rape and murder. She confesses that she secretly wished for Karin's death out of jealousy. In a fit of rage, Töre decides to murder the herdsmen at the crack of dawn. He stabs one of the older men to death with a butcher knife and throws the other into the fire. He kills the boy too, lifting and hurling him against the wall, while his wife watches horrified.
Soon after, Karin's parents, along with the members of their household, set out to find their daughter's body with Ingeri leading the way. Töre breaks down on seeing Karin's body and calls upon God. He vows that, although he cannot understand why God would allow such a thing to happen, he will build a church at the site of his daughter's death. As her parents lift Karin's body from the ground, a spring emerges from the spot where her head rested. Ingeri proceeds to wash herself with the water while Karin's mother cleans the dirt from her daughter's face.
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