Hector, a humble carpenter, receives a mysterious message from his father, a retired wrestler who he has not seen since the man lost his mask in his last wrestling match. The letter asks Hector to join the ranks of the Luchadores (Mexican wrestlers) in “The Realm of Lucha Libre, beyond the walls of this Earth.” “Or else the world as we know it will cease to exist.” The letter asks Hector to travel to a gym on the outskirts of town.
Refusal of Call
Hector, who takes care of his sick sister, ignores the message, even though as a teenager he trained as a wrestler, before giving it up at the request of his now-dead mother.
Strange events occur that lead Hector to reconsider his father’s wishes. That night, the ghost of the famed wrestler El Santo appears to Hector, sent by his father to be of use. “Go to the gym at midnight,” El Santo says, “and open the odd wooden door in the back.”
Crossing the First Threshold
In guiding Hector through the door, El Santo leads him into a world beyond the real, ruled by Mexican wrestlers who have great powers and engage in epic quests. But the realm is in chaos. The great Super Crazy has been exiled and the Rudos have overthrown the wise rule of the Tecnicos. The real world will suffer if the Lord of the Rudos, Man of a Thousand Masks, assumes power. El Santo tells Hector that he must travel to the Man of a Thousand Masks’s domain, defeat him in three matches, and take his mask back into the real world to avert disaster for both realms.
Belly of the Whale
When Hector crosses over to the Lucha Libre world, he finds he has come out at the bottom of a labyrinth hidden inside a mountain. He must navigate the maze to make his way to the light.
Road of Trials
Hector undergoes three trials beneath the mountain. He must fight the inhuman Day of the Dead, outwit the trickster rudo Knife in the Back, and prove himself physically stronger than Rock Made of Rock. He fails the first test, but passes the other two.
Meeting with the Goddess
At the top of the mountain, Hector meets Rapturous Demise, the Queen of the female wrestlers. He experiences a sense of unconditional love for this great figure, who seems to see into his very soul. Rapturous Demise gives her blessing to his question, and she reveals that she, not Hector’s father, sent the letter requesting his help. Rapturous Demise assigns to him the services of her most trusted lieutenant, The Big Death, the second-best female wrestler in all the land. She is bigger than Hector and more ferocious.
With El Santo guiding him, Hector sets off for the domain of the Man of a Thousand Masks, with The Big Death beside him. Along the way, Hector is offered bags of gold to stay in the City of the Shining Wrestlers as their champion. The Big Death offers him both money and companionship to slip away from his quest and settle down with her in the backwater town of No Wrestlers Here near the Bay of Anonymity, but he declines this offer as well—which turns out to have been another test, this time one ordered by Rapturous Demise.
Atonement with the Father
Beyond the City of the Shining Wrestlers, in the hinterlands standing between Hector and the domains of the Man of a Thousand Masks, Hector discovers his father, Iron Fists. Iron Fists tells Hector that it is for the best that the Man of a Thousand Masks win—that only with the Luchadores united under someone so strong can they conquer not just the wrestler world but the world Hector left behind. Iron Fists tells Hector he should swear his allegiance to the Man of a Thousand Masks and become a Rudo. But Hector refuses and bests Iron Fists in a wrestling match, as the price of continuing on his way. Iron Fists, relenting, makes peace with his son and gives him his wrestler name and the mask he wore in winning his first match many years ago. “You shall be called El Topo”—Holy Mountain—because you are unyielding and righteous.
Apostasis (NOTE: THIS MAY REQUIRE DEATH/REBIRTH OF HERO INSTEAD)
Ambushed by the Man of the Thousand Masks’s right-hand man, Blue Demon, in the foothills leading to Man’s great redoubt, Holy Mountain is challenged to a tag-team event and almost loses. Even after recruiting El Santo’s ghost as his third, Holy Mountain almost loses. Blue Demon is forced to retreat, but with a huge price: Big Death sacrifices herself, losing her mask and her life, her ghost consigned to exile in the town of No Wrestlers Here as the ghost-luchadore code demands.
The Ultimate Boon
Harried by los Perros de Mal, the Holy Mountain reaches the Man of the Thousand Masks’ stronghold and wins a series of matches against first the Blue Demon and the Man in his various incarnations under the disguise of various masks. When Holy Mountain has taken the last of Man’s masks (there were 32, wrestlers being prone to exaggeration), he alone rules the wrestler world.
Refusal of Return
For a time, Holy Mountain rules the world of luchadores with wisdom and restraint. He believes he can best serve by being a wise and benevolent leader. But over time, Holy Mountain remembers that he is also Hector and that he has a sick sister at home, and he also comes to realize that while his quest might have been pure, there is nothing pure in ruling. Every luchadore, whether rudo, tecnico, or rudo turned technico, wants something from him. There is also El Santo whispering in his ear that he has not truly completed his quest…
Finally, Holy Mountain, again with the help of El Santo, escapes that place by taking off his mask sneaking out incognito. Alas, the entrance back to the real world under Rapturous Demise’s mountain is gone and he must seek out another path. and, after a series of adventures, during which he is seriously wounded, Holy Mountain makes his way to the town of No Wrestlers Here, where the ghost of Big Death shows him a portal back to the real world. But he cannot find a way through.
The Holy Mountain returns to the real world and, after recovering from his wounds, runs the El Topo Training Center and puts on one of the masks he took from the Man with a Thousand Masks, changing the mask from rudo to tecnico and becoming the champion of his weight division. The world does not come to catastrophe, his sister has recovered miraculously from her illness, and Hector can only believe it is because he completed his quest. The Holy Mountain bestrides the world as a benevolent conqueror and a hero to the people.
Master of Two Worlds
Holy Mountain retires from the ring to become just-Hector again and runs the training facility with his sister. Some days he sits outside the facility looking up at the hills and the forests outside the town. Some days he will slip back through to the other world with El Santo by his side and walk unseen and unremarked upon through the streets of No Wrestlers Here or the City of Shining Wrestlers and take great joy in how harmonious both worlds have become.
Freedom to Live
Hector marries, has children, and lives a long life, teaching his children every lesson he has learned in our world and the next. Sometimes the ghosts of Big Death and El Santo still visit him, and if he is seen by his grandchildren smiling as he talks to himself, well, they have the grace to grant him some secrets…