Elsa, a Chinese musician born in France, travels to Chengdu for work. There she meets silk scholar Rong who also plays the flute. Through his music, she falls in love with the middle-aged widower. Together they unlock the long-lost secret that Song Dynasty silk was made by a rare silkworm, the Night Peacock. Rong's son Xiaolin, who plays female roles in Sichuan Opera, has a psychotic breakdown after spying her having sex with his father. Burdened with guilt, Elsa flees to Paris only to enter into a relationship with Rong's brother, Jianming, who tattoos the image of the Night Peacock moth on her back. Elsa finally decides to keep the baby only to learn that she is pregnant with his Rong's child. The Night Peacock has one final aria to sing.