At a Bedouin camp not far from the Dead Sea: These Bedouins earn their scarce living with the raising of thoroughbred arab stallions. We are looking at twenty thoroughbreds inside a fenced area in the vicinity of the camp, guarded by two Bedouins. The camp is home to a small group of young men, but apart from them, we only see older men, women and children.
Suddenly, the camp is assaulted by the “Black Riders”. These “Black Riders” never leave anyone alive to avoid witnesses. They are merciless and cruelly kill everyone present at the camp. Women, children and old men, all are murdered.
A small boy manages to flee into the mountains, he is being chased by one of the “Black Riders”. The boy slides down a slope and hides in a crack in the rocks. Rubble coming down nearly completely closes his sanctuary. He is not found by the “Black Rider” who eventually rides away. Then, looking for tools to free himself from his sanctuary, the boy finds a small container of round but long shape.
Eventually, the Bedouin boy manages to escape and reaches the desert Petra. The majority of young Bedouins from his camp work here as excavation helps for a group of seven American archaeologists led by Paul Freeman and his girlfriend Shea. Among the helpers is Sheikh Machmut al Sharikh. The small boy tearfully tells him what happened at the camp and Machmut al Sharikh and his men immediately ride back to their camp. Paul Freeman and his team accompany them and find a horror scene at the camp. The “Black Riders” have shown no mercy, all the tents have been burned down, all Bedouins are dead.
Shea tries to comfort the small boy and coincidentally find the small container the boy still carries with him. She opens the container and looks at what they had been looking for in vain until now: One of the Holy Scriptures of Khumran.
The small boy leads Shea and Paul Freeman to his hiding place where he found the container, and the archaeologists immediately search the area for other containers, at first in vain. Then Shea incidentally works a hidden mechanism and the gates to a secret cave system open up. Inside the dark and eerie cave, Shea and Paul Freeman find the rest of the Holy Scriptures in a trunk in the inner cave which is festively decorated.
Unaware of what they have found, the archaeologists, Shea and Paul Freeman do not know the danger they are in: These findings are a mortal danger for Vatican and the Christian doctrine. The findings do not stay a secret for long, as one of the archaeologists betrays them to the Vatican.
Cardinal Basini, the most influential of the cardinals who, together with his Jesuits works first and foremost for the interests of the Papal See, sends out “Juan the Spaniard”. His mission is to find the Holy Scriptures using any means, even murder, as long as he does not leave witnesses, and the mission has been approved by the Pope himself. Juan´s other, second life as a famous Spanish torero is not known to the Vatican, he is cruel and does not know mercy, and in his role as hitman he knows how to best fulfill his order. He will be brutal and merciless.
Immediately, he travels to the caves in the desert and manages to disguise himself as one of the helps at the excavation site. His plan is to find the Holy Scriptures and then to kill everyone and blow up the whole camp. Paul Freeman and Shea are suspicious that a traitor is among them and feel that they are in immediate danger. They decide to take away the Holy Scriptures and Paul Freeman, Shea and five archaeologists use the cover of the night to flee, taking the Holy Scriptures with them, just in time, as “Juan the Spaniard” is leading the “Black Riders” to the camp. The remaining Bedouins fight desperately but in the end, they are all dead, even Sheikh Machmut al Sharik. “Juan the Spaniard” discovers that the archaeologists have fled and that the Holy Scriptures are gone.
A merciless chase begins: “Juan the Spaniard” finds out the hiding places of every single archaeologists. Leaving a trail of killed archaeologists, he still cannot find the Holy Scriptures. In the end, he travels to Boston to find Shea and Paul Freeman who work at the university. They are trying to decipher the writings in the scrolls.
“Juan the Spaniard” manages to take Shea hostage and forces Paul Freeman to give him the Holy Scriptures in exchange for her life. However, right before the exchange, he kills Shea.
Paul, who has to watch his girlfriend die swears deadly revenge on “Juan the Spaniard”.
The Vatican, however, has already decided that “Juan the Spaniard” has to die. He is supposed to hand over the Holy Scriptures to Cardinal Basini in a cloister in Tuscany. “Juan the Spaniard” knows that this is a trap, manages to escape, believing that Cardinal Basini is dead. This is a dangerous mistake, we will find out later why.
Meanwhile, Paul Freeman has found out the true identity of “Juan the Spaniard”.
He travels to Seville where “Juan the Spaniard” is going to have a major fight. In the crowded bull-ring the audience has gone wild, celebrating “Juan the Spaniard”. Right before the showdown he is hit by a small poisoned arrow, nearly invisible. The poison works fast, it does not kill him, but paralyzes him so that he cannot escape the approaching raging bull. His legs do not work and the bull gores him with his horns, propelling his motionless body through the ring.
Deadly wounded, fighting for his life, we see “Juan the Spaniard” down below, in the caves of the bull-ring. Paul Freeman meets him there, and then he dies.
It is the day of Urbi et Orbi, the Apostolic Blessing on Easter day, the Pope´s address can be heard in the central court of Saint Peter´s Basilica.
We see Cardinal Basini who is closing one of the side windows with the words: Quo vadis Papa?