Feliciano Velasco y Borbolla de la Fuente, a lawyer, sells his famous invention, the guillotine, to Pancho Villa, the renowned insurgent general of the Mexican Revolution. Soon Feliciano finds himself immersed in the logic of this simultaneously bizarre, heroic, and cruel world of Villa's troops.
Early one morning in a deserted field, Ramón Castaños is confronted with the dead body of Adela, a lovely young girl whom he had only admired from afar. Within an hour, rumor of the death of Ramón Castaños's girlfriend has spread to every corner of Loma Grande. This powder trail of gossip ignites further violence when the villagers, thirsty for revenge, cast about for answers and hit upon the nomadic José Echeverri-Berriozábal, known as "the Gypsy".