The Chief Priestess arrested my attention when she spoke, and I realized she was standing before me.
“I am Gaylia, Chief Priestess of Thiva,” the woman said. “You may rise Tobias Hart. Please take a seat at the table beside your mistress.”
I stood up, surprised that the woman had addressed me by name. It was the first time I’d heard my name spoken since becoming a slave. As I sat down, my mother spoke.
“Hail, Tobias Hart,” she said with a warm smile.
“Hail, mother,” I said in reply.
Gaylia walked to the head of the table and sat down on the chair she had occupied when Melriel and I had arrived.
“How do you find our world, Tobias Hart?”
“I find it interesting, Your Excellency,” I said. “It’s quite different from my home planet.”
Not knowing the protocol for addressing her respectfully, I’d chosen to fall back on my own religious traditions. “Your Excellency” seemed a better choice than “Most Reverend Mother.”
Gaylia seemed amused, whether with me or at my spur-of-the-moment attempt at offering a respectful religious honorific I wasn’t certain.
“Have you been well treated in your new household, Tobias Hart?”
Recalling the warning I’d received earlier from Melriel, I immediately said, “Yes, Your Excellency. Quite well, thank you.”
Gaylia gave me a knowing smile. I sensed she knew I had been less than candid. She didn’t call me on it, however. Undoubtedly, she understood I was in no position, given my owner’s presence, to speak freely.
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