Romeo is an 11-year-old boy who lives humbly with his family in Sonogno, a small Swiss village near the border with Italy. The village is suffering a long drought, and Romeo’s family has had the worst of it, as they are also under debt. Their last hope is the only corn field that has survived so many months without rain. Romeo wants to participate in the pole climbing competition, in which several boys compete to get a trophy placed on top of a pole. Meanwhile, Luini, a mysterious man known as the god of death, arrives in the village. He buys orphaned or poor children, which he later sells them as chimney sweeps in Milan, and now he has his eyes on Romeo.