Ishgardian Salt Rocks: A Primer
Many people prefer to keep such chunks whole so that they may be used as “salt rocks.” These are placed in the center of the dining table so that anyone who feels their meal is lacking in saltiness can simply lick it and carry on with their meal. Grade 3 Skybuilders’ Finest Rock Salt
“But Mother, can we not break the salt rock into smaller chunks to save us all from having to lick the same piece? It seems awfully unhygienic.”
“No, my sweet prince, that would not be proper. Now lick the rock and put it back on the table.”
─Typical Ishgardian mealtime conversation Grade 4 Skybuilders’ Rock Salt
This particular variety of rock salt has proved so popular with Ishgardian diners, that many choose to forgo their meal altogether and spend the evening licking the communal salt rock instead. Grade 4 Skybuilders’ Finest Rock Salt
This red-hued salt is prized by islekeeps for its role in the creation of homemade frozen treats and myriad practical uses. By contrast — and for reasons unknown to the locals — certain Cieldalaes tourists insist upon licking it directly. Island Rock Salt
Lucia’s eyes flick about the table. Aymeric’s servants have prepared quite the variety; some of the vegetables and meats are familiar enough, or at least close to what she’s used to, but others are utterly foreign.
Something is missing, though. She might not have noticed if not for the fact that she’d been specifically debriefed on it. If she reacted oddly to this part of the Ishgardian dinner ritual, she was told, she would instantly be known for an infiltrator; she must needs treat it as perfectly normal, not the proof of savagery that it most assuredly is.
“Is aught amiss?” Aymeric asks as he arranges his napkin over his lap.
“No. ’Tis only... Where is your salt lick?”
Aymeric blinks in surprise, then laughs heartily. “Ah, full glad am I that this is your first dinner date in this fair city. Had it been anyone other than myself, you would have blown your cover in an instant.”
"What?" she demands. "What do you mean?"
"My dear, the Ishgardian salt lick does not exist. It is... something of a practical joke. A rumor deliberately spread to see which gullible outsiders will fall for it."
Lucia is silent for only a few seconds. But when your role is to blend in seamlessly, those few seconds would be deadly — were she, indeed, in the presence of anyone besides the Lord Commander.
“Oh,” she finally says. Just, “Oh.”