Cherusci tribal chief Segimer bristles at the increasing demands of new governor Varus. Secret lovers Thusnelda and Folkwin deal Rome a symbolic blow.
The theft of the standard provokes a crisis, reuniting Roman officer Ari with his father Segimer, and childhood friends Folkwin and Thusnelda.
Ari commands troops ordered by Varus to hunt down and kill Folkwin, whose family and home village are put in danger for his act of defiance.
Ari embraces his new role with the Cherusci but his shift of allegiances runs deeper than Varus knows. Thusnelda and Folkwin rally a rival tribe.
Ari and Thusnelda forge a political marriage and begin uniting the fractious Germanic tribes. Folkwin is believed dead but has actually been enslaved.
Ari leads Varus and three Roman legions into the Teutoburg Forest — and into history. Thusnelda makes a bloody sacrifice to preserve the alliance.