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Various mages are seen to have the ability to create portals for transport. It seems that Yennefer is particularly talented, but her ex-boyfriend also was able to do it, and the assassin that was chasing Yennefer seemed as adept with it as she was. Both of them were able to transport themselves over distances of what must have been hundreds of kilometers at minimum, to judge by the different biomes, several times in a row, and the assassin hardly seemed tired by it.

On the other hand, I presume that Queen Calanthe's court wizard was incapable of doing it, otherwise he would have used a portal to help Ciri escape, rather than sending her on a horse. And I am not sure Stregabor can be all that talented with it, or why sit in his tower while he knew Renfri was in town looking to kill him?

So, how common are mages who can create portals for teleportation?

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  • I'm assuming you're asking for a general reference, not only based on the TV series? Jan 13, 2020 at 7:05
  • 2
    Yes, indeed. That would work.
    – Adamant
    Jan 13, 2020 at 7:15
  • Stregobor's status is upgraded in the series, in the books rector of Ban Ard was Hen Gedymdeith (who unfortunately didn't do much besides dying of heart attack ;).
    – Mithoron
    Jan 13, 2020 at 21:24
  • 1
    Mousesack is actually not incapable of creating a portal - he uses this very technique to help Geralt escape in a later episode. Presumably he didn't take Ciri away initially because Calanthe didn't want her taken away until it was too late, by which point he'd probably drained himself due to creating and maintaining the magical barrier around the castle (we see how multiple consecutive portals was draining for Yennefer, who is especially talented at it).
    – delinear
    Jan 16, 2020 at 16:30

2 Answers 2

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In the TV series, the answer is likely that Mousesack, Calanthe's court "wizard", is actually a druid, not a trained sorcerer.

‘This is the gallant druid Mousesack, who, like me, is a good friend and advisor to King Bran. [...]’
The Last Wish, "A question of price II"

One might remember the court of sorcerers mocking Cintra for refusing sorcerers' help and instead (possibly) employing druids or soothsayers. Druids' main vocation seems to lie in being, in modern terms, environmental activists:

"That's just where the vampire is buried," said Vivaldi, "because the Temerian druids threatened to set a plague of rats and locusts over the land if the destruction of oak trees is not stopped immediately."
The Sword of Destiny

While it's not explicitly stated anywhere, druids' magic is different, and it's likely less of a science that sorceresses such as Yen use, and more of a bonding-with-nature, passive sort of magic, and creating portals requires some skill and training to be done consistently, along with willpower and energy:

‘I will not leave Geralt . . .’ groaned Triss. ‘[...] I have no more strength! I don’t have the strength to open the portal! Tissaia! Help me please!’
Time of Contempt, ch. 4

Among the sorcering folk (that we most commonly see in the books), however, creating portals is quite common, although it is stated, or at least implied, that considerable skill is needed to open one fast, and they come with their own limitations.

‘Rience. He was a wizard, wasn’t he?’

‘Yes. But not a very proficient one.’

‘Yet he managed to escape from you. I saw how he did it – he teleported, didn’t he? Doesn’t that prove anything?’

‘Indeed it does. That someone helped him. Rience had neither the time nor the strength to open an oval portal suspended in the air. A portal like that is no joke. It’s clear that someone else opened it. Someone far more powerful. That’s why I was afraid to chase him, not knowing where I would land. But I sent some pretty hot stuff after him. He’s going to need a lot of spells and some effective burn elixirs, and will remain marked for some time.’

Portals also apparently aren't unlimited in range, and using multiple portals in "hops" is sometimes required; they also are affected by the weather:

“First of all,” smiled the wizard, “let us have something to eat and drink. We have enough time—allow me to prove myself a good host. I can see you are frozen through and tired from your journeys. How many changes of portals, if I may ask?”

“Three.” Tissaia de Vries shrugged.

“It was nearer for me,” added Artaud. “Two proved enough. But still complicated, I must admit.”

“Such foul weather everywhere?”

“Everywhere.”
Blood of Elves, ch. 6

Yennefer being naturally gifted in creating portals may be grounded in an episode fairly late in the book series, where she escapes from a castle that had a blockade placed on it to prevent teleportation:

‘I must warn you, my dear. All Montecalvo’s stationary portals have a distorting blockade. Anyone who tries to enter or leave without Philippa’s permission will end up in a dungeon lined with dimeritium. You’ll be unable to open your own teleportal without the appropriate components.’
Baptism of Fire, ch. 6

And Yennefer finds a way:

‘I would warn a friend,’ Fringilla said quietly, ‘that even if she were in possession of the components for teleportation spells, she wouldn’t be able to break the blockade undetected. An operation of that kind demands time and is too conspicuous. An unobtrusive but energetic attractor is a little better. I repeat: a little better. Teleportation using an improvised attractor, as you are no doubt aware, is very risky. I would try to dissuade a friend from taking such a risk. But you aren’t a friend.’

[. . .]

‘She teleported,’ [...]

‘How did she bloody do it?’ Philippa yelled. ‘She could muffle an echo, that isn’t difficult. But how did she manage to open the portal? Montecalvo has a blockade!’

‘I’ve never liked her,’ Sheala de Tancarville said, shrugging her shoulders. ‘I’ve never approved of her lifestyle. But I’ve never questioned her abilities.’
Ibid.

The exchange shows that pulling off the particular trick Yennefer used requires, along with the will to risk it, considerable skill: both to go through the blockade, and to place the exit portal in a way that wouldn't kill her. The feat earns her some appreciation from other sorceresses:

I am happy that your crazy teleportation from Montecalvo did not end in tragedy.”
The Tower of the Swallow, ch. 9

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  • Yup, much better answer then mine. Also you can also add that portals where not that safe. Someone that is a bit inexperienced/weakened could actually cast a portal but it can become unstable, thus resulting in death or other consequences for the people going through.
    – RigaCrypto
    Jan 13, 2020 at 9:44
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From Season of Storms:

The worst portal malfunction, that had forever discouraged him from teleportation, Geralt had witnessed at the beginning of his witcher career. Among upstarts, rich nobles, and golden youth it was then fashionable to teleport from one place to another, and some wizards provided such entertainment for an enormous sum of gold. One day – the witcher had been at the place – a fan of teleportation had showed up from a portal cut precisely in half vertically. He looked like an open double bass case. And then everything had fallen and flowed out of him. The fashion for teleports noticeably dropped after this accident.

It seems that at back in the days, portals were a way to go for rich people. Only powerful mages were able to safely conjure and mantain a portal. Also, it seems that portals with known destinations are much harder to cast then ones with random destinations.

As to why was Queen Calanthe's wizard didn't cast a portal at that time, it could be because he either lack the skills for it, his magic abilities were weakend after creating the shield barrier or simply that portals cand be traced by other wizards and they would've found them immediately.

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  • Portals can ben traced by other wizards? In the series, Yennefer is surprised that the assassin can follow them after they used a portal, and concluded that the Queen that she was protecting had some sort of tracker on her. That strongly implies that portals can't be traced under normal conditions.
    – Roberto
    Jan 13, 2020 at 9:12
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    @Roberto Also from Season of Storms: "There was however no time for rest, He knew that portals left traces, and sorcerers had their ways to find where a portal was going. ". Also, Istredd cast a portal for Yenn in the series that he said was "untraceable" and as to why Yenn is surprised that the rogue mage managed to follow her in that scene is that she casts random portals to unknown places that are extremly hard to trace.
    – RigaCrypto
    Jan 13, 2020 at 9:39
  • You're right, indeed
    – Roberto
    Jan 13, 2020 at 9:49

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