While hunting in the Mesoamerican rainforest, Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), his father Flint Sky (Morris Birdyellowhead), and their fellow tribesmen encounter a procession of refugees fleeing warfare. The group’s leader explains that their lands were ravaged and they seek a new beginning. He asks for permission to pass through the jungle. Flint Sky comments to his son that the visitors were sick with fear, and urges him to never allow fear to infect him.
At sunrise the next morning the tribe’s village is raided by a group led by Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo). Huts are set on fire, many villagers are killed, including Flint Sky, and the rest of the adults are taken captive. Jaguar Paw’s heavily pregnant wife Seven (Dalia Hernández) and their young son Turtles Run (Carlos Emilio Báez) escape by hiding in a small natural pit cave that also serves as a water reservoir, but are left trapped when Jaguar Paw is captured. The raiders then lead the captives on a long forced march through the jungle, having left the children behind to fend for themselves.
On the journey Cocoa Leaf (Israel Ríos), a badly wounded captive, is killed by the sadistic Middle Eye (Gerardo Taracena), eliciting anger from Zero Wolf, who threatens his fellow raider with death if he kills another captive without permission. As the party approaches the Mayan city from which the raiders come, they encounter razed forests and failed maize crops, along with villages decimated by an unknown disease. A little girl (María Isidra Hoil) infected with the illness prophesies Zero Wolf’s death and the end of the Mayan world. Once the raiders and captives reach the city the females are sold as slaves while the males are escorted to the top of a step pyramid to be sacrificed before the Mayan King (Rafael Velez) and Queen (Diana Botello).