The Execution of Shezade Mustafa

by Franc

-Written by Franc Rodríguez

(Content)

Dramatis Personae ix.

ACT I

ACT II

ACT III

ACT IV

ACT V

ACT VI

(Dramatis Personae)

MUSTAFA-The eldest son of the sultan.

SÜLEIMAN-The sultan.

HÜRREM-The favourite concubine of the sultan.

MAHIDEVRAN-The first concubine of the sultan.

SELIM-The eldest son of Hürrem and the sultan.

BAYEZID-The son of Hürrem and the sultan.

CIHANGIR-The youngest son of Hürrem and the sultan.

RÜSTEM PASHA-The Grand Vizier.

MIHRIMAH-The daughter of Hürrem and the sultan.

RUMEYSA-The wife of Mustafa.

NARGISHAH-The daughter of Mustafa.

KARA AHMED PASHA-A vizier.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY-A famous poet and friend of Shezade Mustafa.

TAHMASB-The shah of the Safavids of Persia.

DOMENICO TREVISANO-A Venetian ambassador.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO-A Venetian ambassador.

JANISSARIES-The most distinguished soldiers of the Ottoman Empire.

MESSENGERS.

ADVISERS.

EUNUCH.

SPY.

Scene in the years of 1552 to 1553, Turkey.

ACT 1.

SCENE I.

At the camp of the Grand Vizier in Anatolia, Turkey.

Rüstem Pasha has been apprised by a messenger, about a supposed plot of Shezade Mustafa to overthrow the sultan.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

With what immediacy hast thou durst to interrupt my serenity?

MESSENGER.

Forgive me pasha, but I have very important tidings to disclose to thee forthwith.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Well, what hast thou to reveal that is of extreme importance and cannot wait?

MESSENGER.

I have received tidings from a reliable source that the army of Shezade Mustafa is conspiring to murder thee, during the next campaign.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Who is the origin of this presumptive source?

MESSENGER.

A certain janissary that wisheth to remain anonymous, pasha.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

How can I confide, in the words spoken of a mere janissary?

MESSENGER.

Because, we have intercepted that janissary, pasha.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Where is he at presently, so that I can speak to him?

MESSENGER.

He is outside the tent, waiting for my command.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Then, do not keep him waiting any longer!

MESSENGER.

Aye, pasha!

The janissary enters the tent and states his name and rank, within the army of the sultan.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Thou hast told my messenger about a possible revolt, against the authority of the sultan and mine, by Shezade Mustafa? Is that the absolute truth?

JANISSARY.

'Tis a veracious account, pasha!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Then, thou hast witnessed this talk of conspiracy, amongst the janissaries?

JANISSARY.

Aye! I am a witness of this conspiratorial plot to overthrow the sultan and murder thee, pasha.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

How can I be certain of the feasibility of the occurrence of this presumed revolt? Hast thou heard these words of sedition bespoken, by the shezade?

JANISSARY.

I have indeed, with mine own ears, my noble pasha!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

If I verify that what thou hast stated is nothing more an unfounded rumour, I shall personally have thee executed.

JANISSARY.

I tell thee that 'tis no rumour at all!

SCENE II.

At the court of Shezade Mustafa, at Amasya, Turkey.

The shezade is visited, by the Venetian resident ambassador, Bernardo Navagero.

MUSTAFA.

Ambassador, how kind of thee to visit me upon this day!

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

'Tis always a great pleasure for me to be in thy court and, before thy presence, shezade.

MUSTAFA.

Thou hast served my father well, and I consider thee a worthy statesman.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

I am honoured by thy complimentary words of admission, but I admire how thou possessest such considerable power and great deal of credibility, amongst various powerful social groups. Clearly, thou hast earned the goodwill of the janissaries and also attained a considerable reputation, as a patron of scholars and poets. Thou art loved and desired, by all in the empire in succession. The janissaries adore thee, and they let this be known manifestly. There is no Turk or slave of the Gran-Signor who doth not have the same opinion or desire, moreover in addition to primogeniture, which should rightfully give thee the right to the empire, thy reputation as courageous, generous, and fair maketh everybody yearn for thee.

MUSTAFA.

I am a modest son of no pretension for now, except the noble position, as the appointed governor of Amasya.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

With all due respect to the Sultan Süleiman, thou art worthy of being his rightful heir.

MUSTAFA.

'Tis thou that hast spoken those words and not me. Nevertheless, if I was to be chosen to reign as the new sultan, then I am prepared to uphold the stately duties of the Ottoman Empire.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

Then, thou seekest to be the sultan?

MUSTAFA.

My desire is to serve the empire and the sultan, who hast entrusted in me, the authority that I have been given, due to my consanguinity. Therefore, the procurement of the reign of the sultan is the clear sign of the authenticity of my loyalty to him.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

There is no doubt whatsoever in me that thy loyalty to the sultan is inherently manifest, in thy character and valour expressed gallantly and quite plainly.

MUSTAFA.

I am merely a self-effacing man, who was born to serve the purpose of my nobility.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

And the opportunity to be the sultan?

MUSTAFA.

Presently, I do not seek to be the sultan, but if I am to become the new sultan one day, then I shall rule and govern, with just providence and equity.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

I am certain that thou shalt be as glorious, as thy father.

MUSTAFA.

Let us not continue this pointless conversation, since I have no desire to replace the sultan, when he is incomparable and magnanimous. My only desire is to serve him obediently, as his son and willful subject.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

Verily, I must profess that I have not met a man, with the decent traits that are reflected in thy persona, my shezade.

MUSTAFA.

We the Turks, my good friend are not that much different than the Venetians in decorum and honour.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

As a Venetian, I must agree, with that declaration stated.

MUSTAFA.

History shall one day record my triumphs and legacy ambassador.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

And of thy defeats?

MUSTAFA.

They too shall be recorded and not omitted, but I shall regret one thing that haunteth me terribly.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

What is that?

MUSTAFA.

My demise. I fear no man but God. Yet, I cannot efface the indelible image of my death.

SCENE III.

At the camp of the Grand Vizier in Anatolia, Turkey.

Rüstem Pasha has been apprised by the messenger, about a supposed plot of Shezade Mustafa to overthrow the sultan. He summons two individuals of his confidence, to discuss the issue privately.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Ye are present before me, because I shall assign ye an important task.

SHEMSI PASHA.

We are here to serve thee, pasha.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Good! Then I shall proceed to inform ye of thy task.

ALI AĞA.

Whatever task thou hast for us, we shall effectuate it, with the utmost efficiency.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Do not interrupt me!

ALI AĞA.

Aye, pasha!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Now, I want ye to take a letter that is of an exigency to the palace of the Sultan forthwith! 'Tis of great importance that the letter reaches the sultan, without much delay. Is that fully understood?

SHEMSI PASHA.

Aye, pasha!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Then, I trust that the letter shall reach its destination?

ALI AĞA.

Indeed, my noble pasha.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I do not see the need to keep ye entertained any longer, with senseless details. Do ye have any questions?

SEMSHI PASHA.

Nay pasha!

ALI AĞA.

Nay pasha!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Ye are both excused, but before ye leave, heed my warning. If ye are intercepted along the way, do not allow this letter to fall, into the hands of our enemies. Under no circumstance should this letter be intercepted.

SHEMSI PASHA.

We shall protect this letter, with our lives pasha.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Do not fail me in this mission! The consequence shall not be merciful to ye both.

ALI AĞA.

We shall not fail thee in this endeavour!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

One other thing I forgot to mention. Make certain that the janissaries do not suspect thy movements and departure.

SHEMSI PASHA.

Do not be concerned, we shall be prudent in our actions pasha.

ALI AĞA.

The road we shall take is not known, by the janissaries.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Good! That is all for now.

SCENE IV.

At the palace of Shezade Mustafa, in Amasya, Turkey.

Being disturbed with constant appeals from Mustafa and the rumours of a revolt against him and the sultan, Rüstem Pasha recalls Mustafa's vizier, Lala Cafer Pasha, to Istanbul and sends the Bosnian Kara Ahmed Pasha to replace him and apparently to act as a spy. However, this plan disintegrates, when Kara Ahmed Pasha gradually begins to earn Mustafa's trust.

MUSTAFA.

Kara Ahmed Pasha, I was not expecting thee!

Wherefore hast thou come to Amasya?

KARA AHMED PASHA.

Forgive me for the unannounced visit Shezade, but I was ordered to replace Lala Cafer Pasha, as thy new vizier.

MUSTAFA.

By whose authority, if I may enquire?

KARA AHMED PASHA.

By the supreme authority of Rüstem Pasha.

MUSTAFA.

What I do not understand is the reason that I was not informed of this abrupt change in position.

KARA AHMED PASHA.

That I am afraid I cannot answer, except that there must be an appropriate answer for this action taken, by Rüstem Pasha. Perhaps Lala Cafer Pasha was needed in Istanbul more than in Amasya.

MUSTAFA.

I shall have to address the matter with the pasha, but for now I welcome thee to my palace.

KARA AHMED PASHA.

I am honoured to be in thy presence and to serve thee, as thy vizier.

MUSTAFA.

There is much that thou needest to be apprised of vizier, but now is not the time for that. Unfortunately, I must tend to another matter. I shall discuss with thee then, thine administrative duties here in Amasya.

KARA AHMED PASHA.

I am prepared to assume these administrative duties, with the utmost regard and efficiency, Shezade.

MUSTAFA.

I shall expect nothing lesser than that. I entrust in all the members of my court respect and devotion to their position, within my court and towards me unconditionally.

KARA AHMED PASHA.

Naturally, I shall uphold the duties of thy vizier as thou hast declared, unconditionally.

MUSTAFA.

Remember one thing Kara Ahmed Pasha. I was sent to Amasya not because the sultan did not want me to be his heir, but in order to defend the east coast of the Ottoman Empire and learn how to manage a large empire.

KARA AHMED PASHA.

From what I have been told, thou hast learnt the ways of the empire with brilliance.

MUSTAFA.

I have learnt what I needed to learn enough to have ruled this vast province, for over a decade.

KARA AHMED PASHA.

Thou art a man to be revered, for thine accolades and affinity to the soldiers and subjects that serve thee.

MUSTAFA.

If this be the case vizier, then know that I have won their reverence, not with my hauteur, but with my nobility and leadership. I see them not as my loyal subjects, but my loyal brethren.

KARA AHMED PASHA.

And the people of Amasya? They adore thee, as their governor.

MUSTAFA.

Verily, I am beholden to the people, as their leader, comforter and protector always.

KARA AHMED PASHA.

This is evident, amongst the people.

SCENE V.

At the Imperial Palace of the Safavid ruler, Tahmasb of Persia.

Tidings have reached the Safavid Ruler that the Turks are planning a military campaign against the Persians, after Tahmasb and his qizilbash armies had looted the countryside and subdued the towns of Ahlat, Erciş and Adilcevaz in Turkey. The quarrel between the governor of Erzurum, İskender Pasha and the Safavid prince Ismail Mirza began to alarm the government in Istanbul to plan another campaign, against the Safavids. Tahmasb consults with his adviser, about the imminent threat of the Ottomans.

TAHMASB.

I had called upon thee to inform me, about the tidings of the Ottoman's intention, against our empire.

ADVISER.

Thou art aware of the quarrel between the governor of Erzurum, İskender Pasha and the prince Ismail Mirza.

TAHMASB.

Aye, but what information dost thou have to reveal to me that is of great importance?

ADVISER.

I am afraid that the Turks have become aware of our secret incursions, into the Western provinces of Turkey.

TAHMASB.

Then, we must be prepared, for their reactionary action.

ADVISER.

I have contemplated that circumstantial effect.

TAHMASB.

We cannot allow the Turks to circumvent us and leave us unprepared.

ADVISER.

I have already taken the precautionary measures, my lord.

TAHMASB.

That is not sufficient. We must do more, if we are to thwart the threat of the Ottomans!

ADVISER.

What dost thou suggest we do next?

TAHMASB.

We should consider having an ally, amongst the Turks.

ADVISER.

Dost thou mean a spy?

TAHMASB.

Aye! But besides a spy, we would need someone within the sultan's trust that would not be too obvious and discovered in the end.

ADVISER.

Then, who dost thou have in mind, my lord?

TAHMASB.

Wouldth it not be wise to seek an alliance, with one of the sultan's heirs in his direct lineage?

ADVISER.

Dost thou think it wise to risk the danger of being discovered and antagonise the sultan into a wrath?

TAHMASB.

Naturally, that concernth me, but if we could entice one of those sons, with the support of our empire to the succession of the throne, then we could make a propitious pact with him. Süleiman is growing old by the day, and he shall not last any longer, as sultan.

ADVISER.

If I may query, who dost thou consider, amongst the sons of the sultan?

TAHMASB.

I have not yet made that conclusive determination.

ADVISER.

What dost thou require to make that firm decision?

TAHMASB.

I need more concrete information that shall convince me in the end.

ADVISER.

What dost thou want me to do, my lord?

TAHMASB.

I want thee to investigate the situation, with each of the heirs of the sultan.

ADVISER.

Aye, my lord. Thy request is my command!

SCENE VI.

At the chamber of Sultana Hürrem, in the Imperial Palace. Mihrimah Sultana speaks in privacy, with her mother.

MIHRIMAH.

Mother Sultana, I must speak to thee at once.

HÜRREM.

What is it that hath caused thee to enter, with such urgency?

MIHRIMAH.

I have received an urgent letter, from Rüstem Pasha, who is in Anatolia.

HÜRREM.

And what doth this letter containeth in essence?

The sultana is handed the pasha's letter to read. Afterwards, she speaks.

HÜRREM.

According to this letter, Shezade Mustafa is planning to overthrow the sultan.

MIHRIMAH.

It wouldth seem that is the case.

HÜRREM.

We cannot only rely on the suspicion of Rüstem Pasha. We must have indisputable facts, in order to convince the sultan.

MIHRIMAH.

I cannot believe that Mustafa wouldth dare to challenge the Sultan, with such surquedry.

HÜRREM.

On the contrary, I do!

MIHRIMAH.

What art thou implying?

HÜRREM.

If Rüstem Pasha believeth that Mustafa is planning on dethroning the sultan and assuming absolute power, then the peril must be transparent.

MIHRIMAH.

But, he doth not mention the source of his suspicion. Why did he not divulge this pertinent information?

HÜRREM.

There must be a very significant motive, for this concealment.

MIHRIMAH.

Couldth it be that he feared the letter falling, into the wrong hands?

HÜRREM.

Certainly, that is a viable likelihood!

MIHRIMAH.

What other reason is there, if not?

HÜRREM.

We must investigate the matter and discover, whether or not this threat is imminent.

MIHRIMAH.

If 'tis true, then what shall we do? Shall we warn the sultan?

HÜRREM.

Nay! The sultan shall not believe us, without more meaningful evidence.

MIHRIMAH.

But shall we do nothing?

HÜRREM.

I shall attempt to unravel the truth forthwith.

MIHRIMAH.

How?

HÜRREM.

By speaking to the sultan in person.

ACT 2.

At the Imperial Court of the palace of the Sultan Süleiman.

The Sultan receives the messengers sent by Rüstem Pasha, from Anatolia. He is accompanied, by his advisers.

SÜLEIMAN.

I have been told that thou hast requested to speak to me, thy Sultan.

SHEMSI PASHA.

Aye, hunkarim.

SÜLEIMAN.

Tell me now, what tidings have ye to disclose from Anatolia?

SHEMSI PASHA.

I am Shemsi Pasha and this is Ali Ağa. We have been sent by Rüstem Pasha to give thee a letter that he demanded we bring, hunkarim.

The sultan is handed the letter and he reads the contents afterwards. He is deeply disturbed and incredulity has enraged him.

SÜLEIMAN.

This cannot be! Mustafa wouldth not dare to defy mine authority, so intrepidly! How can I believe, in the source of this egregious accusation?

SHEMSI PASHA.

Forgive me hunkarim for the interjection, but Rüstem Pasha hath spoken to the janissary that overheard these statements of rebellion.

SÜLEIMAN.

Return immediately tomorrow in the early morning to Anatolia with my response, so that Rüstem Pasha is notified of my decision.

SHEMSI PASHA.

I shall do, as thou orderest.

SÜLEIMAN.

Is there anything else that thou hast forgotten to mention?

SHEMSI PASHA.

Nay! I have done my task, in accordance to my duty.

SÜLEIMAN.

Ali Ağa. Hast thou anything to add to the discussion?

ALI AĞA.

I have nothing to add to what thou hast read and been told.

SÜLEIMAN.

Then, thou art excused from the court.

SHEMSI PASHA.

Aye, hunkarim.

The messengers depart the court and the sultan still enraged, converses with his courtiers.

SÜLEIMAN.

I want ye my advisers to remain in the palace, until I know more about the threat.

ADVISER.

What dost thou want us to do, hunkarim?

SÜLEIMAN.

Nothing! Ye must wait for my command.

ADVISER.

What if the shezade is on his way to attack the palace?

SÜLEIMAN.

Then, we shall deal with him, as we deal with our foes.

ADVISER.

Shall it not be better, if thou left the palace, until this accusation couldth be proven?

SÜLEIMAN.

Art thou suggesting that I leave the palace, like a coward?

ADVISER.

Of course not hunkarim! I was merely thinking of thy protection.

SÜLEIMAN.

If thou repeatest another foolish utterance, I shall have thee beheaded immediately!

SCENE II.

At the chamber of the sultan.

Hürrem speaks to the sultan in privacy. He is still enraged.

SÜLEIMAN.

Hürrem, I did not expect thee.

HÜRREM.

Forgive mine intrusion sultan, I only wanted to see thee.

SÜLEIMAN.

About what in particular? Now, is not the moment!

HÜRREM.

I see hostility, in thine expression clearly.

SÜLEIMAN.

I repeat, now is not the time to converse, about my facial expressions.

HÜRREM.

I know thy look of rage, and there is something that is troubling thee.

SÜLEIMAN.

Then, thou knowest that whatever hath enraged me, I do not divulge.

HÜRREM.

But thou art not in the court. Thou knowest that as thy concubine, I am concerned with thy well-being.

SÜLEIMAN.

First, my son and now thee think that I am old and losing my competence to govern.

HÜRREM.

Thy son, which of them art thou referring to?

SÜLEIMAN.

Doth it matter, if they are waiting for my demise to take the throne? I shall prove to them and the world that I am still the omnipotent sultan.

HÜRREM.

My sons would never betray thee, but I cannot say the same of Mustafa, since I am not his mother.

SÜLEIMAN.

Mustafa, I shall deal with him, when 'tis necessary.

HÜRREM.

What hath Mustafa done to irk thee?

SÜLEIMAN.

Thou shalt know, when he dareth to oppose mine authority.

HÜRREM.

Hath he done that already?

SÜLEIMAN.

Why dost thou suggest that?

HÜRREM.

I only state, what I understand of what thou hast said.

SÜLEIMAN.

Heed my words Hürrem, I shall not spare any of my sons that dare to dethrone me now or afterwards.

HÜRREM.

Mustafa shall not be content to being a mere governor or heir.

SÜLEIMAN.

Art thou implying that he is scheming to overthrow me?

HÜRREM.

Thou hast made that utterance and not me.

SCENE III.

At the chamber of Mihrimah.

Hürrem has come to speak to her daughter, about her intriguing conversation with the sultan.

MIHRIMAH.

Mother, what hast thou to tell me? Thy countenance reflecth a pensive look.

HÜRREM.

Thy father, the sultan did not reveal much in substance, but he was in a rage.

MIHRIMAH.

In a rage. For what reason?

HÜRREM.

Although he did not disclose essentially the inducement, I believe that it hath to do, with thy brother Mustafa.

MIRIHMAH.

In what manner? I don't comprehend.

HÜRREM.

That I have not yet discover.

MIHRIMAH.

What dost thou mean by that?

HÜRREM.

I mean that there is something very surreptitious about this matter that I have not unravelled its relevance.

MIHRIMAH.

What hath Mustafa done to stir his outrage, in a celeritous solicitude?

HÜRREM.

Whatever 'tis, we must find out at once.

MIHRIMAH.

But how shall we accomplish this, Mother?

HÜRREM.

I shall tell the eunuchs to enquire, amongst the court?

MIHRIMAH.

What dost thou wish for me to do?

HÜRREM.

Rüstem Pasha. Thou must send a letter to him. Perhaps, he is the key in solving the mystery.

MIHRIMAH.

I shall send him the letter, as soon as possible.

HÜRREM.

Whatever hath caused rage in thy father, it must be something very serious in nature.

MIHRIMAH.

Enough for Father to be impassioned in his ire. Shall I speak to Father?

HÜRREM.

Nay! Thy father shall not address the issue with thee.

MIHRIMAH.

I am worried, about what couldth been bothering him.

HÜRREM.

Let me deal with thy father, since I know his demeanour well.

SCENE IV.

At the hall of the Imperial Palace of the sultan.

Hürrem speaks to one of her favourite eunuchs, about the matter that has enraged the sultan.

EUNUCH.

I came forthwith, sultana! What dost thou desirest from me?

HÜRREM.

I want thee to discover, what is occurring in the palace that hath disturbed the sultan?

EUNUCH.

Such as what, in particular?

HÜRREM.

Listen closely to what the Imperial Guards or the servants discuss, about any movements or orders issued by the sultan.

EUNUCH.

I shall obediently comply with that exigency, my sultana.

HÜRREM.

Good! When thou hast tidings that are pertinent, then inform me therewith.

EUNUCH.

Naturally! Thou canst confide in me. If there is something of importance, I shall make known to thee that disclosure.

HÜRREM.

I must know the truth, behind the sultan's sudden rage.

EUNUCH.

Whatever 'tis, it must be significant, my sultana.

HÜRREM.

Indeed! Nevertheless, I shall not be at ease, until I know the specific reason.

EUNUCH.

Surely, thou must have a clue, knowing the sultan, as thou knowest him.

HÜRREM.

That is not enough. I need to know exactly, what is troubling him?

EUNUCH.

I hope for his sake that 'tis nothing that cannot be resolved.

HÜRREM.

My doubt is, whether or not this is all connected to Mustafa.

EUNUCH.

Shezade Mustafa! Why dost thou make that poignant assumption?

HÜRREM.

Because I saw great rage in the eyes of the sultan, when he mentioned him briefly.

EUNUCH.

Then, thou believest that the shezade is, behind the rage of the sultan?

HÜRREM.

Most likely! However, I cannot prove that. For now, 'tis only a supposition of mine.

EUNUCH.

I dread to imagine the possibility of a definite conflict, between the sultan and his son.

HÜRREM.

Whatever difference there is between them, the sultan must always be trusted.

EUNUCH.

Let us pray that the both shall be wise and practical, in their attitude towards each other.

SCENE V.

At the chamber of Mihrimah.

Hürrem has discovered after speaking to her eunuch, the reason behind the sultan's discontent. Unbeknownst to her, Mihrimah informs her mother of a letter sent, by Rüstem Pasha her husband.

HÜRREM.

I came at once!

MIHRIMAH.

What hast thou discovered Mother? Tell me!

HÜRREM.

Thy father is upset with Mustafa, about something that hath offended him.

MIHRIMAH.

I have received a letter from Rüstem Pasha, Mother.

HÜRREM.

What did he write in the letter?

MIHRIMAH.

Thou shalt not believe, what he hath revealed to me.

HÜRREM.

What is his revelation? Tell me now that I am consumed, with a sudden intrigue.

MIHRIMAH.

Rüstem Pasha is warning us!

HÜRREM.

About what? What is his warning?

MIHRIMAH.

According to him, Mustafa is planning a military revolt, against the sultan.

HÜRREM.

When shall, this revolt taketh place?

MIHRIMAH.

He doth not mention a date, but the anticipation is soon.

HÜRREM.

Soon? This is what hath enraged the sultan.

MIHRIMAH.

What are we going to do? Shall we warn the sultan at once? Shall he believe us?

HÜRREM.

We must wait and see what decision and action is taken, by the sultan.

MIHRIMAH.

I cannot believe still that Mustafa wouldth attempt, such an irresponsible act of impudence.

HÜRREM.

Thou thinkest, as a sister and not, as the sultan.

MIHRIMAH.

There is something worse. Mustafa shall overtake the palace, with a strong force of janissaries that are loyal to him.

HÜRREM.

We must be prepared for the worse.

MIHRIMAH.

Dost thou think Mustafa shall murder us, as well?

HÜRREM.

Of course! He is not only the son of the sultan, but of Mahidevran too.

MIHRIMAH.

I cannot conceive my brother murdering his family.

HÜRREM.

Hast thou forgotten that I am not his royal blood?

MIHRIMAH.

Shall we warn Selim and Bayezid about the threat of Mustafa?

HÜRREM.

Not until we are certain of the decided actions of the sultan.

SCENE VI.

At the Imperial Court of the sultan.

The sultan cannot convince himself of the possible betrayal of Mustafa, nonetheless, he must take precaution, against that dreaded eventuality. He speaks with his main adviser, with a sober look in his expression.

SÜLEIMAN.

We must prepare the city, against an incursion.

ADVISER.

Against who if I may enquire, hunkarim?

SÜLEIMAN.

Do not ask me! Just do what I have ordered thee.

ADVISER.

Indeed, hunkarim! I shall effectuate that order immediately.

SÜLEIMAN.

I want the Imperial Guards near me. Is that clear?

ADVISER.

Aye, hunkarim!

SÜLEIMAN.

Make sure that the roads leading to the city and palace are defended and observed, for any sign of a definite intrusion from a large army.

ADVISER.

Do not worry, I shall have these roads guarded. And what do I tell the soldiers?

SÜLEIMAN.

Tell them to be on guard against any unannounced encroachment of a large movable force of janissaries.

ADVISER.

Hast someone durst to take the city, with a celeritous rebellion?

SÜLEIMAN.

Perhaps?

ADVISER.

Who is foolish to dare to defy thine authority, hunkarim?

SÜLEIMAN.

Whoever it mayeth be, know that this revolt shall be soundly defeated.

ADVISER.

There are rumours that thine eldest son Mustafa is planning on overthrowing thee.

SÜLEIMAN.

Who hast durst to profess these unfounded rumours? I shall have these individuals executed!

ADVISER.

The people, hunkarim! They like the janissaries clamour the name of Shezade Mustafa.

SÜLEIMAN.

What art thou implying? Art thou insinuating that my son Mustafa is more loved, by my subjects and soldiers that serve me?

ADVISER.

I would never dare to make that foolish comparison, hunkarim.

SÜLEIMAN.

Then, what art thou attempting to say to me?

ADVISER.

I am only denoting, an advisory opinion of the actual situation that is manifesting, as we speak today.

ACT 3.

SCENE I.

At the palace of Shezade Mustafa, in Amasya.

Enters Mahidevran to speak to her beloved son.

MUSTAFA.

Mother, 'tis always a comfort to me to know that thou art by my side, so devotedly.

MAHIDEVRAN.

And I am very grateful to see how magnificent, my son governeth. One day, thou shalt take thy rightful place on the throne as a sultan, and govern a whole empire with such stateliness.

MUSTAFA.

And if that day shall betide, then I shall hope that thou art by my side, Mother.

MAHIDEVRAN.

God be willing! I shall be there present, when thou art crowned the new sultan. Thou dost not know, how long I have waited for that day to befall.

MUSTAFA.

Thou hast groomed me well, and the noble traits I bear are a reflection of the upbringing thou hast given me, along with my father; although at times, he hath been distant and callous towards me.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Do not be disappointed with this untoward behaviour of thy father. He is thy father.

MUSTAFA.

But how can I forget, the manner that he hath treated thee, as an inconsequential person, instead of his concubine?

MAHIDEVRAN.

Whatever thy father feeleth for me or not, I know in mine heart that his affection for thee is genuine, as the affection shared, between a father and his son.

MUSTAFA.

I want to believe that, but I admit Mother that there are times that I doubt that affinity, and it feeleth like an estrangement.

MAHIDEVRAN.

I am certain that he is very proud of thee my son. Thou art his legitimate heir to the throne.

MUSTAFA.

And I am prepared, as I have said; even though 'tis my wish to be the sultan, I shall never betray my father. Verily, he is the only sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Without a doubt, but thou must be ready, when the day thy father is, no longer amongst us.

MUSTAFA.

I dread that day. However, I shall take my place on the throne, if I am deemed to be the sultan.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Dost thou not believe in thy capacity to be the sultan?

MUSTAFA.

Indeed, I do!

MAHIDEVRAN.

Hürrem shall not permit thee to be the sultan, over her sons.

MUSTAFA.

I love my brothers and shall not harm them, now or afterwards.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Thou must be careful of the actions and decisions thou takest, because Hürrem shall attempt to have thee killed.

MUSTAFA.

I shall not be her sacrificial lamb to be slaughter Mother.

MAHIDEVRAN.

I shall not allow her to harm thee, as long as I am alive. I shall defy her and the sultan, if I must.

MUSTAFA.

I hope that neither one of us shall be sacrificed in the end.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Hürrem is capable of anything sinister to prevent thine ascension to the throne.

SCENE II.

Outside of the garden of Shezade Mustafa.

The Shezade greets his friend and fellow poet Tashlicali Yahyâ bey.

MUSTAFA.

I am glad thou hast come to visit the palace and share with me a pleasant conversation, my friend.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

'Tis a great pleasure to be invited and see the honourable son of the sultan.

MUSTAFA.

'Tis not every day that I am visited by a respectful soldier and poet, who has been to Palestine, Egypt and the holy city of Mecca and on the battlefields of the Battle of Chaldiran and in the Ottoman-Mamluk War as well and the Bagdad Campaign.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

Thou art too reverent in persona shezade, but 'tis I that must remind thee of thy bravery in the Ottoman-Safavid War.

MUSTAFA.

Let us not reflect on the accolades or merits we have achieved, instead on the wonderful thought of poetry. Ever since thou hast earned the trust and admiration of my father, the sultan, thou hast become, not only a favourite poet of mine, but a friend as well.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

I am content to be either of the two, but if I had to choose shezade, then I must prefer to be thy friend.

MUSTAFA.

Precisely, as my friend, I am in need of thy counsel at the moment.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

What can I give thee as advice that thine advisers have not given thee ere?

MUSTAFA.

They are not as trustworthy as thou art, my friend.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

Pardon mine interjection, but tell me exactly, what is that thou wishest to be advised about?

MUSTAFA.

'Tis indeed a very delicate matter, but I shall expound on the argument afterwards.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

Then commence! I am listening, as thou speakest to me.

MUSTAFA.

I am concerned with the situation with the Persians and their shah Tahmasb, Rüstem Pasha and lastly my father, the sultan.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

What hast concerned thee about them?

MUSTAFA.

First, the incursions by the Persians must be reproached and dealt with. I have a letter from the shah, requesting to have a dialogue that leadeth to a treaty. Naturally, I rejected that request and I can never betray my father.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

Thou hast done the correct thing shezade. But wherefore dost thou worry, about the sultan and the Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha?

MUSTAFA.

Because I know the Grand Vizier and his intention to dispose of me. He shall not be content, with my mere exile and his relationship with my sister and my father is excellent.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

I am under the general impression that thou believest that the pasha shall murder thee. If so, then what hast thou planned on doing to prevent that?

MUSTAFA.

I shall not play his game at his liking.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

What dost thou mean by that phrase shezade?

MUSTAFA.

Simply, I shall not give him the satisfaction of my death!

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

God be willing! I see the day, as clear as the sky above us that thou art on the throne, as the sultan.

MUSTAFA.

If that day shall happen Tashlicali Yahyâ Bey, then thanks be to the almighty God, who hast blest me since my birth, with the gift of leadership.

SCENE III.

At Iconia, Turkey.

Rüstem Pasha has arrived at Iconia, only to discover that the janissaries he commands are more loyal to Shezade Mustafa than to him and he receives a letter from his wife Mihrimah, informing him of the grievous state of the health of the sultan. Immediately, he is alarmed by the tidings of the sultan and discusses the recent occurrences, with his main adviser.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I have received the most horrible tidings delivered to me.

ADVISER.

What tidings have unsettled thee pasha?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I have received a letter of extreme disconcertment. The fading sultan's health is of a grave concern.

ADVISER.

May God grant the sultan many years of rule!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Exactly! However, now is not a time to be sentimental amongst the adversity we confront!

ADVISER.

What dost thou mean pasha?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

The obvious defiance of the janissaries towards me and the terrible condition of the sultan hath brought upon me, a very precarious predicament to overcome so suddenly.

ADVISER.

What art thou planning on doing next?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I cannot dismiss the blatant acts of admiration displayed of Shezade Mustafa by the janissaries, but my main concern is the sultan's poor health. I shall send my messengers again to the Imperial Palace of the sultan.

ADVISER.

Shalt thou be returning to the Imperial Palace in Istanbul as well?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I have not decided, what to do. Hitherto, until I can have more evidence, I can only make a speculated assumption.

ADVISER.

And the presence of Shezade Mustafa?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Indeed! I cannot allow Shezade Mustafa to overthrow the sultan. This wouldth be the perfect occasion, for him to replace the sultan and me.

ADVISER.

Then, thou thinkest of him as an imminent threat?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I would be an idiot to not, since he is a cogent symbol of power to the janissaries.

ADVISER.

And what if the sultan dieth pasha?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Then, I along with others that are unmistakable foes of the shezade shall be the first to perish, from his vengeance.

ADVISER.

We must be prepared, for whatever shall happen.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I must find a way to convince the sultan that Shezade Mustafa hath betrayed him.

ADVISER.

But how shalt thou accomplish that?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I shall find a way, and it shall be predicated, on the shezade's betrayal.

ADVISER.

Surely, if there is some one that is befitting of his incredible acumen 'tis thee pasha.

SCENE IV.

At the Imperial Court of Shezade Mustafa in Amasya.

The shezade has received also, the horrible tidings of the deteriorating health of the sultan. He informs his mother of the tidings, with a bemused and shocking gesture.

MUSTAFA.

Mother, I cannot believe that the sultan, my father, is terribly ill and perhaps dying.

MAHIDEVRAN.

My son. Do not be afraid! Whatever befalleth thy father, God shall protect him and if not, then thou must be ready to assume thy position on the throne, if necessary.

MUSTAFA.

But what if the mighty sultan dieth? Am I truly prepared to assume the throne?

MAHIDEVRAN.

Thou must have faith in thee Mustafa. Thou art worthy of being the sultan.

MUSTAFA.

What if the sultan hath not chosen me? Hürrem Sultan shall never allow me to assume the throne, instead of my brothers, her sons!

MAHIDEVRAN.

I am confident that thy father, if he doth not live hath selected thee, as his heir to the Ottoman Empire.

MUSTAFA.

What shall I do? Shall I go and see him?

MAHIDEVRAN.

Thou must go forthwith, before Hürrem hath murdered him or placed one of his sons on the throne already.

MUSTAFA.

I do not believe, she would deliberately attempt to murder the sultan. Nevertheless, I shall prepare myself to ride to Istanbul in case the sultan has gotten worse. I shall have five thousand men prepared to mount horses to follow me, at the sound of the trumpet.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Thou art loved by the agha of the janissaries and the imperial soldiers of the empire. They shall follow thee unto the end of the empire.

MUSTAFA.

I cannot aspire anything for the moment, except the recovery of the sultan.

MAHIDEVRAN.

But thou cannot dismiss so easily, the hatred and connivance that thine enemies have for thee, my son.

MUSTAFA.

I have not Mother, and I have followed mine intuition until now, and thus, I shall not allow myself to render, under the hostility of any of my present or past foes.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Good! Thou knowest that Rüstem Pasha hath aligned himself with such powerful grand viziers, as Sokollu Mehmed Pasha and with Ebussuud Efendi.

MUSTAFA.

Unfortunately, I have not forgotten that shrewd alliance.

MAHIDEVRAN.

There is not much time for preparation. Therefore, we must be ready for anything, at this time.

MUSTAFA.

Mine heart is the utmost pain of a son. I wish to be at the side of my beloved father, but I cannot appear to be imposing.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Thou art a glorious son and thy pain is genuine in affliction.

MUSTAFA.

Yet, I cannot bear the thought of the death of the sultan. I care only for his well-being. I would see myself die, before seeing him dead.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Do not burden me with that horrendous thought, my son. If thou shalt die, I would rather die with thee.

MUSTAFA.

There is still much life in thee Mother.

MAHIDEVRAN.

And in thee my son. Thou shalt not leave me yet!

MUSTAFA.

How can, a son leaveth his mother, when she hath given him the gentle affection of a mother?

MAHIDEVRAN.

Thou art the main reason that I continue to live, because if thou wert dead, then I would surely die afterwards, like a flower that wilteth in the autumn.

SCENE V.

At the Imperial Court of the sultan.

The messengers have reached the palace and speak at once to the sultan, who is still in poor health.

SÜLEIMAN.

Well, what hast thou to report to me today?

SHEMSI PASHA.

We have brought urgent tidings from Rüstem Pasha.

SÜLEIMAN.

Urgent tidings! What are these tidings? Speak and do not hold thy tongue!

SHEMSI PASHA.

The janissaries are beginning to prepare a rebellion against thee and Rüstem Pasha?

SÜLEIMAN.

What art thou saying? I shall have thy tongue cut off with thine head as well, if this is false!

ALI AĞA.

I swear hunkarim that what the pasha has told thee is the absolute truth. We have seen this in the attitude and conversations amongst the soldiers.

SÜLEIMAN.

What do the soldiers say of me?

SHEMSI PASHA.

They say thou art old and feeble and Shezade Mustafa is young and strong!

SÜLEIMAN.

It grieveth mine heart to believe that is occurring. God forbiddeth that my Mustafa Khan shouldth dare such insolence, and for the love of the sultanate during my lifetime shouldth extend his foot from the quilt! It must be the idea of some mischief-makers. They slander him in order to obtain the rule for the shezade they support. See that thou never allowest similar rumours to appear and never again repeat to me such a foul thing.

ALI AĞA.

Aye, hunkarim!

SÜLEIMAN.

Go back once more to the camp and tell Rüstem Pasha to return to Istanbul, so that I can speak with him about the matter in person.

SHEMSI PASHA.

We shall inform the pasha, about thine order hunkarim.

SÜLEIMAN.

Before ye leave the court, know that I shall not tolerate any more unfounded rumours of any nature, in particular those said against the shezade, without solid evidence. Is that clear to the both of ye?

ALI AĞA.

Aye, hunkarim! We shall do as thou hast commanded us to do!

SÜLEIMAN.

I shall deal with the temperament of the janissaries, as I have dealt with them, during all my years as the sultan. There is only one sultan and that is me Süleiman the Magnificent!

SHEMSI PASHA.

O, there is no man more magnificent than thee, hunkarim!

SÜLEIMAN.

Go now and deliver thy message to Rüstem Pasha!

SHEMSI PASHA.

Aye, hunkarim!

SÜLEIMAN.

Tell Rüstem Pasha that I shall be waiting for his return, with much anticipation.

SHEMSI PASHA.

Aye, hunkarim!

SCENE VI.

At the chamber of the sultan.

Süleiman's weak condition is becoming more evident by the hour. Hürrem has asked her daughter Mihrimah to speak to the sultan, so that she could know more about the situation with the possible insurrection.

SÜLEIMAN.

Although I am tired, I am always content to see thy smile and hear thy laughter, my daughter.

MIHRIMAH.

Father, I do not intend to interrupt thy repose. I merely came to see how thou wert doing.

SÜLEIMAN.

Thou art ever caring and attentive to my needs.

MIHRIMAH.

As thy daughter, 'tis my duty to care for thee.

SÜLEIMAN.

Did thy mother make thou visit me?

MIHRIMAH.

Indeed, she is worrisome, about thy natural disposition.

SÜLEIMAN.

Tell thy mother then, that I shall be fine. 'Tis the duties of a sultan that hath waned my strength a bit.

MIHRIMAH.

I can descry the fatigue plainly, upon the pallor of thy countenance.

SÜLEIMAN.

I did not know that my pale complexion was that conspicuous.

MIHRIMAH.

'Tis of no immense satisfaction to bear witness to the fact of that conspicuity.

SÜLEIMAN.

Hast thou heard any tidings from thine husband, Rüstem Pasha?

MIHRIMAH.

Wherefore, dost thou quaeritate?

SÜLEIMAN.

Because, I have summon him back to Istanbul.

MIHRIMAH.

Is there a reason for that? Is it due to thine health?

SÜLEIMAN.

Soon, thou shalt know, why he hath returned.

MIHRIMAH.

Even though I am extremely grateful that thou hast summoned his return, I cannot help but worry about thee Father.

SÜLEIMAN.

Do not worry thyself, for I am still the sultan.

MIHRIMAH.

With all due respect, I do not care about the sultan. Instead, I care about the man that is my father.

SÜLEIMAN.

But I cannot forget that I am the sultan to my subjects and govern the Ottoman Empire.

MIHRIMAH.

That is the undeniable truth that, I must always be reminded of its relevancy.

ACT 4.

SCENE I.

At the chamber of Shezade Mustafa, in Amasya.

The Shezade is alone in his chamber, when his beloved concubine Rumeysa enters to speak to him, in privacy.

MUSTAFA.

I did not hear thee enter the chamber, Rumeysa.

RUMEYSA.

Forgive me, if I interrupted thy repose, shezade.

MUSTAFA.

Nay! I was merely resting and then pondering, in my solitude.

RUMEYSA.

About thy father?

MUSTAFA.

Naturally! Ever since I have heard the disturbing tidings of his deteriorating physical condition, I have been restless in my solicitude and contemplation.

RUMEYSA.

Allow me to comfort thee in thine hour of preoccupation.

MUSTAFA.

Verily, I cannot avoid the urgency to see the sultan and know of his health.

RUMEYSA.

I am very much unsettled, as thou art shezade.

MUSTAFA.

What if the sultan dieth? What shall become of me afterwards?

RUMEYSA.

If that sudden occurrence transpireth, then thou shalt take thy place on the throne, as the new sultan.

MUSTAFA.

Am I ready to replace him, with that symbolic honour?

RUMEYSA.

Indeed! Thou hast been groomed, since childhood shezade as the sultan's legitimate heir to rule the empire, as the sultan.

MUSTAFA.

What if my father hath chosen one of my brothers to replace him, upon the throne and not me?

RUMEYSA.

There is no one more meritorious than thee to take that rightful place and rule the Ottoman Empire, with the glory of thine ancestral forefathers, as thy proud lineage manifested.

Rumeysa departs and the shezade's daughter Nargishah enters the chamber, as she too perceives the worrisome expression, in the discernment of her father's gestures.

MUSTAFA.

Nargishah, my beautiful and only daughter. How wonderful 'tis to be thy father!

NARGISHAH.

And how wonderful 'tis to be thy daughter, baba.

MUSTAFA.

One day, thou shalt be married and have beautiful children. God be willing, I hope that I am still amongst the living, when that day arriveth.

NARGISHAH.

Why dost thou utterest, such a disconcerting admission that is eerie in nature?

MUSTAFA.

Forgive me, for professing those words that I should have never uttered, in the first place.

NARGISHAH.

Thou art worried about the sultan.

MUSTAFA.

To the world and the subjects that serve and praise him, he is the sultan. Yet, to me he is more than that. To me, he is always, my beloved father!

NARGISHAH.

And thou art the prince and governor of Amasya, but to me thou art my father forever, baba!

SCENE II.

At the Imperial Court of Shah Tahmasb in Isfahan, Persia.

The interesting rumours of the poor health of the sultan have reached the Imperial Palace of the shah. With immediacy, he summons his main adviser to his court, amongst the expecting courtiers.

TAHMASB.

I have summoned thee to confirm a rumour that is circulating, amongst the region.

ADVISER.

What exactly is that rumour thou hast referred to, my noble shah.

TAHMASB.

That the sultan of the mighty Ottoman Empire is in poor health. Is that accurate or is it merely, an exaggerated confabulation of the truth?

ADVISER.

I too have heard the surprising tidings of the sultan, but I do not know, if 'tis true or not.

TAHMASB.

We must have absolute clarity about the state of the sultan's health. Therefore, I am ordering thee to send a spy to Istanbul to verify that rumour.

ADVISER.

I shall send a qualified spy immediately to Istanbul, this day.

TAHMASB.

This particular spy must effectuate an investigation about the matter, with the utmost precision and precaution.

ADVISER.

Of course, my noble shah.

TAHMASB.

We have been at war with the Ottomans, but have not been able to defeat them, unfortunately.

ADVISER.

They have been a thorn to our side, for over a decade.

TAHMASB.

Precisely, and now when Süleiman mayeth be at his most vulnerable and near death is the golden opportunity to strike and destroy the Ottomans at last!

ADVISER.

How dost thou propose, we accomplish that task?

TAHMASB.

As I had alluded before, the key is swaying to our side as an ally, one of his promising heirs.

ADVISER.

Dost thou refer to his devoted sons?

TAHMASB.

Indeed! We shall soon see, which of them is the most devoted to the sultan or to his selfish greed.

ADVISER.

Thou knowest the risk is great and we could be forced to halt a bloody invasion.

TAHMASB.

I am fully cognisant of that possible occurrence. Nonetheless, now is the exact moment to defeat the sultan and expose his weakness.

ADVISER.

We cannot afford to underestimate the power of the Ottomans.

TAHMASB.

I do not intend to underestimate their might and status in the region.

ADVISER.

Shall I prepare the army, for an invasion of Turkey?

TAHMASB.

Nay! Not yet! That wouldth be foolish on my part!

ADVISER.

I understand, my noble shah.

SCENE III.

At the Imperial Court of the palace of the sultan.

Rüstem Pasha has returned to Istanbul to see the sultan and discuss the matter of Shezade Mustafa. He enters the Imperial Palace and court thereafter, with a growing sense of anxiety. He bows his head in reverence to the sultan and sees that the sultan is in good health.

SÜLEIMAN.

Rüstem Pasha.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I came at once to Istanbul, hunkarim.

SÜLEIMAN.

Then, thou knowest, why I have summoned thee to return to the Imperial Palace?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I believe I do! But let me say that I am pleased to see thee healthy.

SÜLEIMAN.

Wherefore should I not be?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

There is no one greater than thee, hunkarim!

SÜLEIMAN.

Now, I shall proceed to make the revelation known to thee.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Pardon! What revelation?

SÜLEIMAN.

The preparations to lay waste to Persia, if necessary!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

An incursion of Persia? When hunkarim?

SÜLEIMAN.

Soon, I shall elaborate the details to thee. For now, thou hast been appointed to lead this campaign, against the Safavids.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I am honoured to lead this great campaign, as thy grand vizier.

SÜLEIMAN.

Thou hast proven hitherto to be reliable and worthy, but I shall expect nothing lesser than victory.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

And I shall make thee rejoice in victory, if the Safavids dare to defy thee, from Isfahan.

SÜLEIMAN.

We must abate these incursions into our lands, by the Safavids. I am ready to go on the campaign once more.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Art thou strong enough to bear the effort of the travel?

SÜLEIMAN.

Indeed! I am Kanunî Sultan Süleiman of the dynasty of the Imperial House of Osman. I shall recuperate the lost territories in Erzurum, and then cross the Upper Euphrates and lay waste to parts of the Safavid Empire in Persia. The shah is a coward and fleeth like one.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

What if the shah doth not retreat this time hunkarim?

SÜLEIMAN.

That is the reason, why I have chosen thee. However, thou shalt have allies to accompany thee.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

We shall teach the Safavids to not underestimate our power and dominion in the region.

SCENE IV.

At the chamber of Mihrimah.

Rüstem Pasha speaks to his wife and mother-in-law, about the issue with Mustafa and the sultan's new campaign, against the Safavids.

MIRIHMAH.

Rüstem Pasha, I am glad thou hast returned, but tell us, why hast thou returned and what is happening, with Mustafa and the janissaries.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

The sultan had summoned me, because he is preparing to lead another campaign, against the Persians.

HÜRREM.

And Mustafa? Is he not coming with an army to Istanbul to replace the sultan after all?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I do not know, but I doubt it, since we have not heard of any march of his janissaries from Amasya, besides I think I can circumvent the shezade and tame the indomitable lion in him.

HÜRREM.

How shalt thou attempt to do that?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I shall appoint my brother Sinan Pasha, as deputy in Istanbul and grand admiral of the navy. Shehzade Bayezid hath been charged, with guarding Rumeli in Edirne.

MIHRIMAH.

But thy brother doth not have experience in maritime affairs.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

True, but this shall prevent Shezade Mustafa from crossing the straits of Istanbul, if he arriveth in the capital, before Selim or Bayezid do. There is no more secure way to prohibit the crossing than with the navy.

HÜRREM.

'Tis risky, but this is an excellent plan, if Mustafa taketh the bait.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Exactly, sultana!

MIHRIMAH.

And then, what shalt thou do with Mustafa?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I shall deal with him!

MIHRIMAH.

How art thou going to deal with him?

HÜRREM.

This, I would like to know, since thou wert unable to convince the sultan of Mustafa's intention to overthrow him?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I believe I have designed the perfect plan.

HÜRREM.

What is this masterful plan that thou hast planned?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

There are rumours that the shah of Persia hath been in contact, with Shezade Mustafa.

MIRHRIMAH.

What art thou implying, with that bold statement?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

That the shezade hath betrayed the sultan.

HÜRREM.

How dost thou propose to convince the sultan, if thou did not convince him before?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I shall write a letter, as if the shezade had wrote it.

HÜRREM.

What shall the letter containeth?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

His betrayal to the sultan.

MIHRIMAH.

The sultan shall not be convinced.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

He shall, if the seal of Mustafa is on it. There shall be no doubt, then of the shezade's betrayal.

HÜRREM.

Precisely!

SCENE V.

At the court of the palace of the Shezade in Amasya.

Cihangir the younger half-brother of Mustafa arrives at the palace accompanied, by his brother Bayezid.

MUSTAFA.

Cihangir and Bayezid! 'Tis a wondrous surprise to see ye, my brothers. I was not informed about thy visit. Cinhangir, why did thou not write me ere?

CIHANGIR.

Because I wanted to surprise thee, with the good tidings in person.

MUSTAFA.

What good tidings art thou making reference to?

CIHANGIR.

Our father is healthy and he hath decided to start a new military campaign, against the Safavids.

MUSTAFA.

I am glad to know by thee that our father the sultan hath regained his vigour anew, but I fail to understand why I should be content about a new campaign, against the Safavids?

CIHANGIR.

Because I am certain that the sultan shall ask thee to partake in the campaign.

MUSTAFA.

How art thou certain of that feasibility?

CIHANGIR.

There is no one better than thee to demonstrate courage, in front of our army.

MUSTAFA.

What dost thou opine on the matter Bayezid?

BAYEZID.

I am in concurrence with my younger brother. Mustafa, I know thee well enough, as thy brother to follow thee on to the battlefield.

MUSTAFA.

I have not heard anything from the sultan. He and solely he can make that decision, my brothers.

BAYEZID.

The sultan shall be proud, as we are proud of thee.

MUSTAFA.

I thought I knew the sultan, but lately, he is a stranger to me.

CIHANGIR.

Dost thou not confide in the word of thy brothers?

MUSTAFA.

If only t'was that easy, Cihangir. However, 'tis not!

CIHANGIR.

What dost thou mean by that brother?

MUSTAFA.

Soon, one day, when ye both are older and I am no longer amongst ye, ye shall share the same vision I had.

CIHANGIR.

What art thou saying, no longer amongst ye brother?

MUSTAFA.

When the hour befalleth, thou shalt know Cihangir.

BAYEZID.

I believe I understand, but thou shalt live a long life, Mustafa.

MUSTAFA.

I shall live, until my fate hath determined, the hour of my demise.

CIHANGIR.

What thou art saying is foolishness!

MUSTAFA.

O my younger brother. Thou who art wise and intelligent shall know the cruelty of this world that we dwell, within its manifestation.

BAYEZID.

I am honoured to be thy brother Mustafa and I hope one day soon that I am honoured to demonstrate on the battlefield my courage, as thou hast done.

MUSTAFA.

Whatever my fate is to be determined in the end, I pray one thing before ye both that I am not forgotten by ye.

BAYEZID.

Thou shalt never take our lives, brother?

MUSTAFA.

Never, for as long as I live, thee Cihangir, and Selim are my blood brothers!

SCENE VI.

At the home of Bernardo Navagero the Venetian ambassador.

Navagero is visited, by his fellow countryman and ambassador, Domenico Trevisano.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

Domenico! Welcome to mine home!

DOMENICO TREVISANO.

Such a lovely home thou hast ambassador.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

If I may ask, is there a specific reason for thy visit, since it hath been a while, since thy last visit?

DOMENICO TREVISANO.

I have to speak to thee, about an important matter.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

What important matter?

DOMENICO TREVISANO.

The situation with the sultan and his son Mustafa.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

What exactly is there to discuss?

DOMENICO TREVISANO.

I am certain that thou art aware of the rumours involving the poor health of the sultan and how miraculously he hast regained his strength.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

Aye! I am aware of that circumstance.

DOMENICO TREVISANO.

Then what dost thou assume is happening?

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

I assume that there is a mystery that we are not aware of its relativity.

DOMENICO TREVISANO.

Dost thou believe that the sultan is truly ill and dying?

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

Wherefore dost thou ask me?

DOMENICO TREVISANO.

Because I do believe in that. I have served the court of the sultan and have seen him in such a pitiful condition. He is extremely pale, anxious and at times incoherent in his speech.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

I was not cognisant of those details.

DOMENICO TREVISANO.

This is the reason, why I have concluded that opinion logically.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

And what of Mustafa?

DOMENICO TREVISANO.

I believe that there is something that the sultan is planning that involveth Shezade Mustafa.

BERNARDO NAVAGERO.

Such as what?

DOMENICO TREVISANO.

I do not know with exactitude, but I have come to believe that the sultan is suspicious of his actions.

ACT 5.

At the camp of the sultan in Ereğli, Turkey.

The sultan departed Istanbul, with his army on 28 August 1553 and heads for his new military campaign, against the Safavids. His army halts in Ereğli for the nonce. While Suleiman's army is resting in Ereğli, Rüstem Pasha makes an offer to Mustafa to join his father's army in the campaign against the Persians. At the same time, he plans on warning Suleiman and persuading him that Mustafa is coming to overthrow him in a rebellion. He ceases on the opportunity to eliminate Shezade Mustafa, by convincing the sultan of his son's betrayal, through a letter sent to the Safavids by Mustafa, containing his forged seal. He enters the tent of the sultan and hands him the fabricated letter of the shezade. The sultan's reaction upon opening the letter and reading its contents, with the seal of Mustafa, stirs a sudden eruption of uncontrollable anger that shall cause him to perpetrate the unthinkable murder of his own flesh and blood.

SÜLEIMAN.

Where did thou obtain this letter? Who gave thee this letter of treachery?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

One of my men intercepted the letter, on the same road we took to reach here, through the passage that leadeth to Amasya.

SÜLEIMAN.

I cannot convince myself to believe that mine eldest son hath betrayed me, with such arrogance and to our bitter enemy, the Safavids.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Forgive me hunkarim! I did not want to reveal this letter to thee knowing the disconcertment 'twouldth cause, but 'twas my duty to advise thee of the plans of the shezade.

SÜLEIMAN.

How couldth this be? I have given everything that a father wouldth give to his son.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Almost everything.

SÜLEIMAN.

What dost thou mean, by that remark pasha?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Perhaps 'twould be better, if I remained quiet on the subject.

SÜLEIMAN.

Speak! I command thee!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

For some time now there have been rumours circulating of the reverence that the janissaries and other members of the army display openly, for Shezade Mustafa. Unfortunately, thou hast witnessed this blatant demonstration on the route to Amasya.

SÜLEIMAN.

Aye! I have witnessed this display of praise in the soldiers.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Now is not the time to appear weak and divided, before the Safavids. Thou must be strong, against the shah.

SÜLEIMAN.

I grow weary of Tahmasb, and I shall teach him a lesson!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Thou art the sultan, and thou must think of the preservation of the empire.

SÜLEIMAN.

Indeed! I am the Sultan Süleiman, and only I am the absolute ruler of the Ottoman Empire.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

What shalt thou do, about the shezade, hunkarim?

SÜLEIMAN.

Do not worry! I shall take care of the shezade, when he cometh. In the meantime, I need thee to concentrate on the campaign, against the Persians. I shall put fear in the eyes of the Safavids!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Of course, hunkarim!

SÜLEIMAN.

Leave me! I need to be alone, in my thoughts.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Aye hunkarim!

SCENE II.

At the garden of the Imperial Palace of the Sultan, in Istanbul.

Hürrem is joined in the garden, by her dearest daughter Mihrimah.

MIHRIMAH.

I am happy that thou art with me, on this stroll Mother.

HÜRREM.

Today is such a lovely day to be in the spacious garden.

MIHRIMAH.

I must confess that I cannot stop thinking, about what is occurring, with the sultan and Mustafa.

HÜRREM.

I too am concerned with the recent developments that have resulted, due to the unpredictable nature of Shezade Mustafa. Their relationship hath recently become an estrangement, between them.

MIHRIMAH.

How did this transpire?

HÜRREM.

Dost thou blame thy father?

MIHRIMAH.

Of course not!

HÜRREM.

Now is not the moment to question thy father. 'Tis thy brother that hath defied thy father, with the utmost defiance.

MIHRIMAH.

But shall he murder Mustafa?

HÜRREM.

That only thy father can answer. Do not forget, if we do not eliminate Mustafa, he shall eventually eliminate us, including thy brothers.

MIHRMAH.

Mustafa shall not dare to kill us, Mother! He is good and not evil.

HÜRREM.

Perchance. However, we would be unwise, if we did not take into consideration the thought of thy brother's insolence.

MIHRIMAH.

But I know him well!

HÜRREM.

Thou art forgetting one other person that is a major influence on thy brother.

MIHRIMAH.

Who?

HÜRREM.

Mahidevran, his envious mother.

MIHRIMAH.

I had forgotten, about her influence.

HÜRREM.

Mahidevran shall never stop, until her only son is seated upon the throne, as the new sultan.

MIHRIMAH.

Is she powerful enough to control Mustafa to overthrow the sultan?

HÜRREM.

Indeed! And Rüstem Pasha thine husband wouldth be one of his first victims.

MIHRIMAH.

I dread the sudden occurrence of that horrific contemplation mother!

SCENE III.

At the camp of Rüstem Pasha, in Ereğli.

The pasha is privately meeting, with one of the high officers of the janissaries to bribe him.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Dost thou know, why I have summoned thee here?

HIGH OFFICER.

Nay pasha!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

The reason that thou art present before me is, because I have a very significant task for thee.

HIGH OFFICER.

What certain task is that, if I may query?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I have given thee the task of spreading the rumour amongst the janissaries that Shezade Mustafa hath pledged his allegiance secretly to the shah of the Safavid Empire.

HIGH OFFICER.

But the men shall not believe this!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Then, make them believe it! I have given thee a task and do not fail me.

HIGH OFFICER.

If I do?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Then, thou shalt be executed forthwith! Is that understood?

HIGH OFFICER.

I understand pasha!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I warn thee, do not involve me in the details. All I want from thee is to bemuse the janissaries. 'Tis not necessary to convince the men. All that thou must do is make them doubt the character of the shezade. That is all!

HIGH OFFICER.

Thou wantest me to bring the immediate downfall of the shezade?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Naturally!

HIGH OFFICER.

If the janissaries discover that I am to be blamed for the downfall of the shezade, they shall murder me, without any measure of leniency.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

If thou failest me, I shall not have any measure of leniency. Just think of the numerous benefits I can grant thee, such as a high position in the army or even one of my personal guards. Is that not sufficient to entice thee?

HIGH OFFICER.

'Tis sufficient indeed!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Excellent! I suggest that thou be discreet in thy relation with the janissaries. I cannot afford to provoke them unnecessarily. All I want is to stifle their rebellion, against the sultan.

HIGH OFFICER.

Wouldth it not be easy to murder the instigators of the possible rebellion than to eliminate the shezade?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Not when the benefactor of this revolt is precisely the shezade! Enough of the questions and execute the task or I shall execute thee, without any inducement!

HIGH OFFICER.

I shall accomplish this task, with great effectiveness pasha.

SCENE IV.

At the camp of the janissaries, in Ereğli.

The janissaries begin to be suspicious of the additional presence of the Imperial Guards in the camp and the absence of Shezade Mustafa.

FIRST JANISSARY.

I do not comprehend the need for the presence of more Imperial Guards, since there are enough to protect the sultan, unless he feareth for his life.

SECOND JANISSARY.

I also have pondered that oddity.

FIRST JANISSARY.

Who wouldth the sultan fear, the Persians? They have failed to be a valid threat to the empire.

SECOND JANISSARY.

I do not believe that the Persians worry much the sultan.

FIRST JANISSARY.

Then, who dost thou believe is his main preoccupation?

SECOND JANISSARY.

His son!

FIRST JANISSARY.

Which of them? Selim, Cihangir, Bayezid or Mustafa?

SECOND JANISSARY.

We know that Bayezid is guarding Rumeli, in Edirne. Who else is not present?

FIRST JANISSARY.

Shezade Mustafa!

SECOND JANISSARY.

Exactly! Dost thou now understand the odd nature of the situation?

FIRST JANISSARY.

Aye! What are we to do afterwards?

SECOND JANISSARY.

I do not know, but we must procure to discover the truth, for the sake of the shezade.

FIRST JANISSARY.

What if the rumours of the shezade are true and he hath betrayed the sultan and us too?

SECOND JANISSARY.

I am not convinced of that unfathomable possibility!

FIRST JANISSARY.

Then, what dost thou surmise, from this confusion?

SECOND JANISSARY.

There is no other thing that dissuadeth me, from making the immediate conclusion.

FIRST JANISSARY.

What hast thou concludeth?

SECOND JANISSARY.

The sultan shall execute the shezade and the culprit is Rüstem Pasha.

FIRST JANISSARY.

What art thou implying?

SECOND JANISSARY.

I cannot prove it, but mine instinct compelleth me to believe that profoundly.

SCENE V.

At the tent of Rüstem Pasha.

The pasha is visited, by the high officer that he had instructed to incite indecision in the soldiers.

HIGH OFFICER.

I came at once pasha!

RÜSTEM PASHA.

What hast thou to report to me of relevance?

HIGH OFFICER.

There is doubt in the men, as thou hast planned.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Good! Now, we must wait, for Shezade Mustafa to arrive.

HIGH OFFICER.

If he doth not?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

That is not of thy concern. I shall deal with that matter and not thee!

HIGH OFFICER.

What then pasha?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Let the game commence! We shall soon know the sequence to this incredible event that shall take place.

HIGH OFFICER.

Shall the sehzade be foolish enough to fall into the trap?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Whether he doth or not, time shall predict that inevitable outcome!

HIGH OFFICER.

What dost thou want me to do next, pasha?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Nothing! I want thee to observe and keep me informed of any important actions taken by the janissaries.

HIGH OFFICER.

What shalt thou do, if the janissaries decide to back the shezade in the end in a rebellion?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

First, let us wait for the shezade to arrive and then, we shall wait for the sultan's reaction.

HIGH OFFICER.

May I be dismissed? I do not want for the janissaries to suspect my collusion against the shezade.

RÜSTEM PASHA.

Dost thou fear the shezade?

HIGH OFFICER.

Dost thou not fear him thyself?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

I fear no one but the sultan!

HIGH OFFICER.

But what if the sultan is murdered instead of the shezade?

RÜSTEM PASHA.

How dare thou utterest, such an absurd notion. As along, as I am alive, I shall protect the sultan from anyone, including against his own son Shezade Mustafa, if needed.

SCENE VI.

At the Imperial Palace of Shah Tahmasb, in Isfahan, Persia.

The spy that the shah had sent to Turkey has returned, with interesting tidings to report to him.

SPY.

I have urgent tidings to relate to thee, my noble shahanshah.

TAHMASB.

What is this urgency that thou must disclose to me?

SPY.

I have learn that the Ottomans are preparing, for an incursion against us. They are planning to invade Persia, if necessary.

TAHMASB.

I had suspected that to be the case!

SPY.

But there is something else that is pertinent to thee.

TAHMASB.

What is it? Do not keep me in suspense any longer?

SPY.

The Ottomans are being led on their campaign, by Süleiman the Magnificent.

TAHMASB.

The sultan himself is on the march?

SPY.

'Twould seem to be the indication that I had understood.

TAHMASB.

Where are the Ottomans at presently?

SPY.

I believe they are nearby the town of Ereğli.

TAHMASB.

What else hast thou to relate to me of extreme importance?

SPY.

There are unfounded rumours that the sultan is having bitter discrepancies, with his one of his sons that he is planning on murdering him.

TAHMASB.

Which one of his sons?

SPY.

I believe 'tis the oldest, Shezade Mustafa!

TAHMASB.

Wherefore wouldth the sultan murder his own beloved son?

SPY.

I am not exactly certain my shah, but it must do with the rumours that are spreading of the sultan's desire to prevent a rebellion.

TAHMASB.

What sort of rebellion and who shall lead this rebellion?

SPY.

I believe the leader is Shezade Mustafa!

TAHMASB.

Interesting! We must know what shall occur next. Thou must return at once and investigate what is happening. I need for thee to go hither or thither, until thou hast received more information about the situation with the sultan and his son, Shezade Mustafa.

ACT 6.

SCENE I.

At the palace of Shezade Mustafa, in Amasya.

The shezade has received a letter from Rustem Pasha, informing him of the new military campaign, against the Safavids that shall be led by the sultan in person. He is stunned by the tidings and is reticent at first. There is hesitation in the eyes of the shezade. He must discuss this issue with his advisers, before he makes his decision to leave. They advise him not to go, because it is a trap. The rumours of the sultan's discontent with him has reached his attention. Afterwards, he discusses the issue with Tashlicali Yahyâ bey, his confidant.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

What is troubling thee shezade? Thy stare is a worrisome one that I have seldom seen before in thee.

MUSTAFA.

I have received a letter.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

From who?

MUSTAFA.

Rustem Pasha!

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

What doth the letter contain?

MUSTAFA.

According to Rüstem Pasha, the sultan hath offered me to join him on the Nahcivan campaign, against the Safavids.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

And what hast thou decided?

MUSTAFA.

I have not decided anything yet!

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

Thou art wanting mine advice?

MUSTAFA.

Indeed! There is no one of military experience that hath befriended me than thee that I trust.

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

If thou are wanting mine opinion, then know that I do not recommend that thou goest to Ereğli in Konya.

MUSTAFA.

Wherefore, if I may query?

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

I do not wish any harm unto thee, shezadim. And with Rüstem Pasha there, I do not think it wise. It couldth be a trap designed to lure thee in, and kill thee!

MUSTAFA.

But my father shall not murder me!

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

Perhaps not he, instead Rüstem Pasha!

MUSTAFA.

Rüstem Pasha! In what manner?

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

In the evil form of connivance!

MUSTAFA.

Explain!

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

We both know that the pasha is a corrupted and avaricious man, whose only loyalty is to Hürrem Sultan and her daughter Mihrimah.

MUSTAFA.

But what if thou art wrong and the sultan is waiting to bond with me anew?

TASHLICALI YAHYÂ BEY.

I would hope for thy sake that be the case, but I beg of thee shezade. Do not go to Ereğli!

SCENE II.

At the chamber of the palace of the shezade.

Mahidevran has been told, about the sultan's request to have the shezade join him on the military campaign, against the Safavids.

MUSTAFA.

Mother, I was going to thy chamber to talk to thee.

MAHIDEVRAN.

I have been apprised, about thy father's request to join him on the campaign, against the Persians.

MUSTAFA.

This is true, but who told thee of this disclosure?

MAHIDEVRAN.

It doth not matter, who hath told me, when the only thing that concerneth me is thy safety always.

MUSTAFA.

The thing is I do not know what to believe and worse, what to do.

MAHIDEVRAN.

I beg of thee my son. Do not go and stay! Rüstem Pasha shall not rest, until thou art dead. Thou art aware of that daunting fact.

MUSTAFA.

I am, but I shall be judged either way. If I go I shall concede to the notion of being a rebel, and if I do not go, I shall be considered a traitor, to the empire and to the sultan.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Yet, is it not better to live and not die?

MUSTAFA.

Indeed! However, there is a special pact between the sultan and I that neither one of us shall transgress.

MAHIDEVRAN.

What art thou saying, Mustafa?

MUSTAFA.

Simple Mother, I have pledged to not murder the sultan and he hath done the same.

MAHIDEVRAN.

But how canst thou be certain, when thy father is old and feeble?

MUSTAFA.

I know him well enough to make that asseveration. I shall honour my word!

MAHIDEVRAN.

And shall he still honour his word?

MUSTAFA.

I am confident that he shall.

MAHIDEVRAN.

I do not know, if I shall see thee again, my son.

MUSTAFA.

I must go, since there is nothing more contemptible in the eyes of men than the act of a son's betrayal.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Thou art wrong Mustafa. The betrayal of a father unto his son is more contemptible.

MUSTAFA.

I pray one thing Mother that when I see the sultan, he shall greet me with an embrace and not with the blade of a sword.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Do not utter such horrid words! Dost thou wish to frighten me? If something tragic occurred to thee Mustafa, I would not bear it. I cannot live, withou thee shezade!

MUSTAFA.

Thou hast been for the most part of my life, a mother and father to me. I shall never forget that, as long as I live. Thou, my children, my wife are always a beacon of inspiration for me.

SCENE III.

At the garden of the palace of Shezade Mustafa.

The shezade departs from Amasya unto Ereğli to join the forces of the sultan. But before his departure, he says his farewell to his family.

MUSTAFA.

Nargishah, my beloved daughter, thou art my hope for the future.

NARGISHAH.

I love thee baba.

MUSTAFA.

Rumeysa, thou art my light of the presence.

RUMEYSA.

And thou art mine, shezade.

MUSTAFA.

Mother, thou art my past, present and future.

MAHIDEVRAN.

And I shall be waiting for thy return, as I have done numerous times, when thou wert a child.

MUSTAFA.

But I am a man now and a proud one.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Of course! I am proud of thee Mustafa.

MUSTAFA.

If only the sultan couldth say the same thing.

MAHIDEVRAN.

The sultan is also proud of thee!

MUSTAFA.

Then, wherefore doth he display more trust in Rüstem Pasha than me?

MAHIDEVRAN.

Because the sultan is blinded, by the wicked dominion of Hürrem, his envious lover.

MUSTAFA.

I do not know, what the sultan saw in her. As I stare at thy beauty, I know now that he was blinded, by ignorance to dismiss thee.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Ever since Hürrem bewitched him, he hath forsaken us to the invisibility of our existence.

MUSTAFA.

I often wonder, when the doves fly above me as they do now, if that meaneth they accompanied me in life or unto death.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Stop! Do not hasten in thine observation, for wherever thou art, my spirit is with thee and God as well.

MUSTAFA.

If I do not return, then know that I loved thee always and I shall never perish in soul.

MAHIDEVRAN.

I beg of thee! Do not profess such consternation.

MUSTAFA.

Forgive me Mother. I must go now, for the sultan is awaiting me in Ereğli.

MAHIDEVRAN.

Go in peace and return in peace.

MUSTAFA.

God be willing!

SCENE IV.

At the camp of the Sultan, in Ereğli.

On the 1 September 1553, Shezade Mustafa arrives, with his great force riding into the camp valiantly, as the soldiers of the Sultan bow their head in reverence. He is greeted by his brothers, Cihangir and Selim, and is accompanied, by Tashliscali Yahyâ bey.

CIHANGIR.

Abi, how glad I am to see thee join us.

MUSTAFA.

And I too am joyful to be with ye, my brothers. I regret that Bayezid was not able to be here. Selim, art thou not happy to see me? I sense thou art aloof.

SELIM.

Nonsense brother! Naturally, I am glad to see thee join us on the campaign.

MUSTAFA.

There is much to talk about, but little time to prepare ourselves. The campaign against the Safavids shall not be easy, but we shall be victorious. The sultan shall be proud of me.

CIHANGIR.

I know that he is proud of thee, brother! I wish that I was not born with a hump on my back to impede me and could march on to the battlefield with thy courage, but I cannot!

MUSTAFA.

Cihangir, thou art capable of anything. Thou wert born with much more knowledge and wisdom that I could ever possess.

CIHANGIR.

Herefore I would exchange all of my knowledge and wisdom, for only one occasion to fight, as a soldier on the battlefield. I must admit that I do not have the courage that thou hast.

MUSTAFA.

There are times, when I also lack the courage.

SELIM.

Do not mind the words of Cihangir. He is our younger brother and he doth not understand the distinction, between courage and fear, when death is nigh.

MUSTAFA.

I disagree Selim! Our brother knoweth, but now is not the time to convince him otherwise. Let us rejoice in the thought of triumph!

SELIM.

Shalt thou be speaking to our father soon?

MUSTAFA.

I shall, when the moment hath arrived.

CIHANGIR.

I have spoken to the sultan, and he is anxious to see thee. He hath promised me that whatever discrepancies ye had were resolved.

MUSTAFA.

Thanks be to God! I came here to demonstrate my loyalty to him and my commitment to the campaign.

CIHANGIR.

Father is proud of thee!

MUSTAFA.

And I of him, but he is proud of both of ye as well, my brothers.

SELIM.

Thou hast been our oldest brother and the sultan is always aware, who betrayeth him or not.

MUSTAFA.

Indeed Selim! Dost thou believe that I have betrayed the sultan, in any form past or present?

SELIM.

Nay! However, I am not the sultan brother.

MUSTAFA.

If thou wert, wouldest thou deem me a traitor?

SELIM.

Doth it matter, what I think?

CIHANGIR.

Mustafa, Selim is envious that he doth not possess thy valour.

SCENE V.

At the Imperial Tent of the Sultan in Ereğli.

On the 2 September 1553 Shezade Mustafa is executed, by the Sultan. All the high officials and statesmen greet the shezade, upon that eerie and ominous morning of his horrible execution. Before the shezade speaks to the sultan, he shares his last conversation, with the man that shall record his death, in the annals of Ottoman history, Tashliscali Yahyâ bey.

MUSTAFA.

Tashliscali Yahyâ bey, thou hast been a fair friend to me. I ask one thing of thee, before thou leavest Ereğli.

TASHLISCALI YAHYÂ BEY.

Thy request is my command!

MUSTAFA.

If I am executed by the sultan in the end and do not return alive to my family in Amasya, then return my body, as a visible sign that I may be dead, but my soul is at peace.

TASHLISCALI YAHYÂ BEY.

Do not utter such incoherence, my shezade. Thou shalt return to Amasya and be with them once more.

MUSTAFA.

God be willing!

TASHLISCALI YAHYÂ BEY.

I shall be waiting for thee hither, when thou hast spoken to the Sultan.

Before he leaves, the shezade looks up into the sky and sees the gloomy and solemn presence of death. Upon this day, he shall not see his familiar doves flying above him any more.

MUSTAFA.

Behold the sky! It seemeth that the doves have abandon me today.

TASHLISCALI YAHYÂ BEY.

What dost thou mean?

MUSTAFA.

Nothing! Hence 'tis only a strange reference that I understand.

TASHLISCALI YAHYÂ BEY.

Beware, my shezade!

MUSTAFA.

Wherefore? I am at peace and I fear not death, nor the sultan!

TASHLISCALI YAHYÂ BEY.

Then, go in peace!

Shezade Mustafa enters the tent of the Sultan. Gradually, he begins to walk into the interior of the tent, until he reaches the Sultan, who is sitting upon his throne surrounded, by his Imperial Guards. The shezade is unaware that hidden are the assassins that shall execute him. He bows his head in reverence, as the stare of the sultan is that of a vindictive father.

MUSTAFA.

Hunkarim!

SÜLEIMAN.

Wherefore hast thou betrayed me Mustafa?

MUSTAFA.

Hunkarim!

SÜLEIMAN.

Wherefore hast thou betrayed me, traitor?

Slowly, the assassins emerge from their silhouette and begin to surround the shezade. Sensing that his father had ordered his execution, the shezade walks backwards to flee. However, as he does this, he is immediately attacked by the assassins that attempt to strangle him, with a sturdy rope. The shezade fights to free himself and runs, but in the end, he is captured and executed, like a common thief. His last utterance is the following.

MUSTAFA.

Baba, I did not betray thee. I have kept my word, but thou hast not!

SCENE VI.

Outside of the tent of the Sultan, in Ereğli.

The body of the shezade is excorted outside on a royal, embroidered rug and carried, by the assassins that murdered him unto the edge of a field, where the faithful janissaries mourn his death, as they are shocked and enraged, with the murder of their great shezade.

The sultan in grief over the death of his eldest son is left to read a farewell letter written, by the shezade addressed to him.

My sultan!

Most likely, thou shalt never be able to read this letter which I carry over mine heart, because I am writing this letter to a future which I never hope had manifested. My desire and wish are of this manner-if my wishes are not fulfilled and if this letter reacheth thine hands that meaneth that thou hast sacrificed me...

O my dear sultan, my beloved baba!

If thou art reading these sentences it displayeth that thou hast forsaken thine own heart and I have left this deceitful world. Be certain that thou hast filled thine hands, with the sin and blood sacrificed of an innocent life...

However, we promised that we would never betray each other. I have sworn that I should never revolt against thee, and thou hast sworn that thou wouldest not sacrifice me. I kept my promise baba, and I swear hitherto over my son Mehmet, my daughter Nargishah, I have never betrayed thee-but thou hast broken thy promise sworn and did the one thing that thou hast said that wouldest never do to me, murder me.

I am departing this cruel world that which a father killeth his son.

I fancy more dying as an oppressed one, rather than being the oppressor who thinketh of murdering his father for worthless power and future.

Perchance my name shall never be written, like thee in the illustrious pages of history. No one shall discuss my victories in wars, and I shall never have a throne to rule the world. Perchance the historians shall write about me, as a rebellious prince. Thence, let them write thuswise! Let them conceal the truth which only God knoweth from amongst the people. One day shall befall, and someone shall describe the story of the oppressed as well. Perhaps in later centuries, when I am long dead, someone shall reveal my story also. Perhaps they shall hear the story and learn the truth of the oppressed son that sought justice in the eyes of the people.

The sultan shall deeply regret his decision afterwards, when he has discovered that Rüstem Pasha has fabricated the letter of the shezade to the Persians. In the end, the shezade never betrayed the sultan, as was thought. Shortly, Cihangir would die of melancholy, Bayezid would be executed as well by the sultan. Hürrem would die of an illness and the sultan of old age. Selim the unworthy son would become the new sultan, and Mahidevran would outlive them all. Thus, Shezade Mustafa would be then remembered, as the dignified shezade and the sultan that never was!

THE END.

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