In the dark of the night, Pimen, an old monk, writes the chronicle of his time.
Grigori, a younger member of the monastery, lies asleep. As he awakens he tells
Pimen of the disturbing dreams he had and he asks Pimen a question that has long
been on his mind; who killed young Dimitri, the Tsarevich. Pimen tells him what
happened in Uglich that day, when young Dimitri was murdered by three men who
admitted that they killed him by order of Boris Godunov. Asked by Grigori how old
the Tsarevich was when he died, Pimen tells him that he must have been the same
age as Grigori himself. As Pimen leaves the cell to attend the morning prayers, Grigori is
left deep in thought about what he has heard.