The rain has finally stopped. Dark clouds are slowly sinking into the horizon behind the thick fog. A clearing has opened in the sky above the Palace and expands slowly outward.

It is the year 1703.  The ample formal ballroom of Topkapi Palace has new decorations. Its walls are lined with antique ceramic tiles and its ceiling is covered with frescoes of dreamy landscapes. Unmistakable woman’s touches. It is a stunning room, but it languishes unused behind its thick blue-velvet curtains.

Şehsuvar Sultana is suffocating in this disquietingly peaceful environment. It makes her feel lonely and conflicted. As if she doesn’t belong here. It overwhelms her. Her heart flutters like a trapped bird. She runs to  the light in her pearl-embroidered slippers, which hurt her feet. She opens one of the windows wide and leans out over the Bosphorus. She fills her lungs with deep breaths of Black Sea air.

A few years back, she had attracted the Valide Sultana’s attention with her tall and shapely figure, her abundant auburn hair, her extraordinary beauty, her intelligence. The Ukrainian-born girl, only sixteen, was to become a concubine to the Sultan Mustafa II, and renamed Şehsuvar, which means “elite”. Mustafa seduced her and made her love him, only to forget her utterly when he tired of her. Her heart is broken for all time, she is in despair.

Elbows trembling on the window sill she wants to scream: “Oh, my Sultan! You are my hell and my heaven. I cannot fall asleep when I cannot dream of you. Without you the sun will not warm me. It is you who stirs the winds to blow. And unless you wink at the roses they will not grow and never fill the air with perfume.”

Her chest is heaving rapidly up and down. She can’t hear anything but the loud thumping of her heart.