The sultan sits.
Around him the royal party recline; the tinted light from the cumarias stains their skin and bounces brightly from the polychromed walls – every inch of them covered in script and elaborate tile work; geometries in blue, green, yellow and black. Shells, flowers, stars…
The floor is glazed in blue and white and the high hall is a perfect cube; its immaculate symmetries offset today by shadow, the scent of fruit-flavoured shisha, heady perfumes, cushions, throws and music.
Bleary-eyed blinking ambassadors adjust as they come in from the courtyard and its water-refracted glare.
Nervous functionaries nestle in the nine alcoves.
The boy’s voice joins the shisha smoke and rises quietly, curling through koranic quotes and climbing towards the seven concentric crowns of the cupola. More