This simple spell is one of the first one that a magician learns to cast. Every magician is able to use it; along with create bond and detect magic, it represents a shared suite of powers common to everyone who works magic. Learning to operate magical portals teaches a magician how to locate and navigate the magical areas known as regio. Perhaps more importantly, it teaches a magician to tap into and draw on reserves of power outside of their own personal mana. Without this knowledge, they would find it difficult to learn more powerful spells, or use crystal mana.
Perhaps the most important use of this spell for Imperial magicians is to gain access the Hall of Worlds where the Imperial Conclave meets. In some quarters, mastery of this spell is seen as a prerequisite for membership in the Empire's powerful magical order. As such it is generally the last of the three "cantrips" taught to an aspiring magician. Once a magician has opened the portal in the Anvil regio once, they can continue to do so for several days without needing to expend further personal mana - but they still need to cast the spell each time they enter or leave the Hall of Worlds (meaning, for example, that a magician cannot use the portal while wearing armour).
The biggest limitations on this spell is that it only allows the magician who casts it to pass through a portal, and only in one direction. There are exceptions, of course. The Academy for example takes advantage of their apprentice training to allow a single magician to take an entire group of young students to the Hall of Worlds, while certain portals might specifically open "wide" enough to admit multiple travellers with just a single casting of the spell. A ritualist versed in the lore of Autumn might perform the Ambassadorial Gatekeeper to allow a group of mundane allies to travel through a portal.
Wise magicians ensure they have the resources to re-open a portal they have passed through, or they risk being trapped in a potentially dangerous environment. Even these careful precautions cannot help if a portal has been sealed by a powerful effect such as Pakaanan's Iron Shutters - a sensible magician learns as much as possible about their destination before passing through a portal.
The spell plays an important role in communication with eternals, allowing them to send a presence through to the regio. Eternals cannot enter the mortal realm, but with the assistance of a magician using this spell, an eternal that is present near the regio during the casting can draw closer to the mortal realm. When this happens there is likely to be some physical manifestation, unusual lights or noises, that indicate the presence of the being. It is then possible for the magician to engage in limited communication and even exchange items with the eternal.
None of these limitation apply when the spell is used to access the power of the Sentinel Gate. Using the Sentinel Gate is also one of the few circumstances where this spell will allow a magician to open an actual gateway that allows their companions to travel without needing their own magical abilities, and doing so ensures a return journey can be made. Being able to perform the operate portal spell also allows an Imperial magician to perform the minor cantrip that lets them calculate how long a conjunction they have used will last - this power is so minor it does not even require any personal mana.
Beyond Anvil, portals are uncommon, but this spell has a strong symbolic resonance. With it, a magician can visit a chamber under their own power - and perhaps more importantly, they can leave the same way. When people who are not magicians enter one of these magical places, they often find themselves unable to leave without the assistance of one of the denizens - assistance that invariably comes at a steep price.
- Type: Regular spell
- Cost: 1 Personal mana
This flexible spell can be used to perform a number of separate tasks, but only one may be used each time the spell is cast.
- Traverse Regio. You may open a portal to another location, provided a portal exists.
- There is also a portal in the Anvil regio that leads to the Hall of Worlds. A magician wishing to use this portal pays the standard cost of one mana the first time they use it in a weekend; for the rest of the event they may then cast it without needing to spend additional mana.
- Invite Eternal. You may open a regio to allow a named eternal of that realm to send a presence through. This use of the spell will only work if a prior arrangement with that eternal already exists.
- Trace Passage.You can determine where a portal was last opened to go to. This will tell you the last place the Sentinel Gate opened to, or gives basic details of the chamber on the other side of a portal in a regio.
- Operate Sentinel Gate.The spell is also used to open the Sentinel Gate, the powerful teleportation portal that stands in Anvil.
- If you have passed through the Sentinel Gate, you can perform a simple cantrip in a few seconds that will tell you how long before the conjunction ends - that is, how long you have to get back to Anvil safely. This does not require any personal mana.
The following are sample vocals you can use to cast this spell if you don't want to make up your own.
- (evoking the Door) "I stand on the brink between here and there, in the eternal moment of the now straddled between what was and what is to come. The door is open, I have only to take the step and I will pass through the portal and be transformed."
- (tracing runes in each of the cardinal directions) "Four roads meet and merge becoming one road down which I shall pass. I am at the junction of chance and destiny, and I choose to find my path and walk my skein."
- (effecting a haughty demeanour) "Open, portal! I am one who cannot be stayed by door or gate, who travels without fear and whose passage shall not be hindered. Open, portal! I am crowned by circumstance, and all the world is my demesne. Open, portal! My will is to travel and I will not be gainsaid."
- (divining the destination of a portal) "Attend, wind, I seek your counsel. I offer the gift of my breath as I speak these words. I see a door that is not a door, between one place and another. Speak to me, wind. You travel where you will - tell me what lies on the other side of this gate."
- I stand at this place, this magic gate, and reach beyond this world / Let magic connect these realms together, this portal now unfurled.
- Rune Magic: The rarely used runes Gralm and Ull are often associated with this spell due to their mundane associations with roads and travel. Likewise, runes Sular may be evoked for its associations with travel and exploration. Some magicians prefer to evoke Hirmok to demand that a portal open before them, or even Feresh, the rune of majesty, to exercise authority over the target portal.
- Astronomancy: The Door, unsurprisingly, has a deep resonance with this spell given its associations of travel and transportation. Likewise, the Key is appropriate to casting this spell, especially when entering an unexplored chamber for the first time. When the spell is cast to operate the Sentinel Gate, some magicians will call on the Wanderer which surmounts the physical archway although doing so is seen as reckless by some astronomancers.
- Dramaturgy: The persona of the Witch works well with this spell, which deals with mysterious forces and hidden destinations. Where the Witch may focus on the magical element of opening a portal, the Prince often demands passage authoritatively, or takes on the mantle of a diplomat or emissary to evoke images of free passage and distant travel. The instruments of the Blade (especially when wielded by a magician taking the role of the Captain) and the Lantern are often used in conjunction with operate portal - the former to cut or pry open a portal, the latter to light one's way through the unknown.
- Other traditions: Any imagery to do with travel or finding a way can help with this spell - Urizen magicians in particular like to use lenses or navigational tools when they operate a portal, using them to quickly analyse a portal for the best way to open it. More mystical traditions may offer a libation of wine, water, spit or blood when opening a portal. In a similar fashion, some Freeborn magicians cast aside the lowest denomination coin they are carrying as a payment. Collecting such a coin back up again is considered to bring bad luck on anyone who does so.
- Realms: The ability to open a portal is closely connected with the realm of Autumn (travel, the connection between places). Some magicians consider the realm of Night to have correspondence with this spell, especially when used to gain illicit access to a chamber or to 'trick" a portal into opening in the face of assumed authority.