Soul-names or Ainaimin (sing. Ainaim) are a creation of the goddess Seihdhara. They are special abilities granted to some people. In creating soul-names also discovered her own soul-name, which is Bear Over Red Water. The goddess appears to have imbued all soul residue departing the Sky of Pyres with the capacity to possess a soul-name. The exception to this appears to be divine souls, which appear to have also been imbued with this capacity. Every soul, once brought to completion inside a living and sentient being, has the capacity to possess a soul-name. This means that souls do not inherently possess soul-names, but have the inherent capacity to do so. The category of people who actually receive a soul-name is whoever undergoes a journey of discovery to a sacred place of Seihdhara. It is not clear what these are but it has been implied that valid locations will be quite common.
A soul-name is a name attached to the soul that, upon discovery, grants two special abilities. One is a boost to Martial Prowess. The other is "one unique skill" that is not related to martial combat but can potentially pertain to it. Soul-names come under the category of soul magic.
Due to soul-names being very broad, their unique ability is very minor. A good way to measure it is to keep in mind that whatever this unique ability does it cannot be more significant than Asceal's healing waters. While gods can also have soul-names, and the abilities they get from them may be more powerful than those mortals get (because most mortal unique skills will be things gods can do passively), they are not 1 MP abilities.
Martial prowess may manifest differently for different people. One person may find that they have a knack for grappling. Another may find they have a good right hook. Another might have a thing for knife-throwing. Yet another may be very good with a back-hand.
One's soul-name can be discovered by having someone go to a place sacred to Seihdhara - this can be a monument created by Seihdhara, a holy site, a place where there are many oaks (linked to Seihdhara), and so on - and searching there for a sign, or by going personally in search of it. These signs are usually strange happenings but not particularly miraculous. For instance, if it is a cold winter's day and one comes upon a daffodil in full-bloom, the soul-name one is searching for may be Daffodil in the Snow. In Seihdhara's case, she saw a great smoke-cloud in the shape of a bear, the light of the star-pyre reflecting off it and making it seem like it was standing on a red lake or river, thus her soul-name is Bear Over Red Water. If there happens to be a lightning storm and the time that of night, the ainaim may be Storm in the Depths of Night. If an eagle flies by on a clear day, Eagle in Full-Sight. The key thing is to be actively searching for a soul-name and be close to a sacred place of Seihdhara. Upon seeing the sign one would immediately come to know that this is the omen they are searching for, and the name will come to them naturally followed by a feeling of ease and certainty about it. If one sees a sign and it is not the right one, they would know immediately that this is not the sign they are looking for.
These ainaimin are sacred and provide the person concerned with a connection to Seihdhara's martial aspect, which manifests itself in the unique boost to Martial Prowess (the first special ability). One without an ainaim does not necessarily suffer from any bad effects, but one who knows it can be said to be martially complete, having a greater affinity for martial matters than their counterparts without a soul-name. Each soul’s ainaim is created when the omen is sought and is destroyed when that soul is burned in the Sky of Pyres.
For the effects of a soul-name to take hold it is usually sufficient for one to seek out their soul-name or be told it by one who has sought it out for them. In cases where one does not wish to know their soul-name, however, or has some other reason to reject it, then its effects will not take hold and it will be as though the soul-name was never discovered at all. The reasons for this are not clear, but what is clear is that it is not mere knowledge of one's soul-name that brings about its effects, the will of the person in question clearly has some kind of influence also.
Some sample mortal unique abilities (unique abilities can be anything from above average [i.e. superior but within the norm for the person's species] to exceptional [i.e something that may be immediately apparent on meeting the person, like feline grace or glowing health]):
- Exceptional strength (e.g. can bench 160 kg)
- Exceptional robustness (e.g. always hale and hearty)
- Exceptional intelligence (e.g. will learn things quicker, reach correct conclusions more easily etc.)
- Exceptional perception (e.g. perceives what others miss, notes patterns or odd/suspicious behaviour, footprints)
- Exceptional senses (e.g. may be able to hear a sword being unsheathed in the dark, or smell/taste poison in a drink, or see traps more easily etc.)
- Exceptional speed (e.g. will generally never lose a race, perhaps has quicker reflexes)
- Does not fatigue easily (e.g. can keep marching/running etc. when others have reached their limit)
- Exceptional woodcarving skill (e.g. has an affinity to wood, will take to woodcarving readily, will likely create little pieces of art even with no training)
- Unfazeable (e.g. this person takes everything in their stride, nothing can shock or faze them)
- Mind for numbers (e.g. when this person speaks, people 'ooh' and 'aah' at their mastery of elvish)
- Tells very engaging stories (e.g. so engaging that you're carried off into them)
- Exceptional haggling skill (e.g. this person will be able to talk down even the most stubborn seller, and entice the most reluctant buyer into paying exorbitant prices. Ability does not apply to lynch mobs.)
- Has a knack for sensing trouble (e.g. similar to an animal's 'sixth sense')
- Exceptionally loud voice (e.g. can reach decibels members of their race usually cannot. No one is shouting this person down. Likely makes things like warcries more effective)
- Can survive on very little food
- Always lands on their feet (e.g. no matter how your push or shove, no matter how slippery or treacherous the terrain, this person just doesn't fall)
- Exceptional sense of direction (e.g. never gets lost, instinctively knows which direction is north etc.)
- Experiences time differently (e.g. 1 second for others may be experienced as 2 seconds for this person, allowing them a slight advantage when reacting)
- Good with animals (e.g. reads and empathises with animals easily, meaning they can control them better)
- Can go longer than usual without breathing (or equivalent if species does not breathe)
- Can see in the dark
- Does not require sleep
- Longevity (e.g. will live longer than the norm for their species)
- Can breathe in water/on land (depending on species)
- Can float on air (e.g. can float a metre or so into the air, may aid with jumping and getting over things, or getting a height advantage)
- Gifted artist (e.g. this person can draw the pantheon really well)
- Green fingers (e.g. this person just gets plants)
- Withstands pain (e.g. 'tis but a flesh wound!)
- Mental resistance (e.g. this person is very difficult to manipulate)
- Mimicry (e.g. has an incredible talent for imitating simple sounds after hearing them)
- Silent (e.g. very skilled at not making noise)
- Cat-like climber (e.g. this person can navigate themselves into the weirdest and highest places. Debilitatingly scared of heights and will need the fire brigade to get them down)
- High tolerance to chemicals (e.g. high alcohol or drug tolerance, in the latter case this can be disadvantageous too)
- Exceptional administrator (e.g. this person can run a large group or groups with unmatched skill - they mould people to their will with ease so as to bring about a desired result)