From The Heretic Knowledge Vault
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A means for instantaneous travel.
There seem to be two distinct forms of instantaneous travel in the ES universe: Travel platforms/Warp gates and the Portal. Travel platforms and warp gates seem to be based on the same elven technology; warp gates were simply "re-invented" by humans, it seems.
On the other hand the Portal device is profoundly different. Where the other two are roughly equivalent to a Star Trek transporter (the way Sarine explains it), a Portal device seems to be more on the line of Stargate. When Sarine activated the platform it created a vortex in the air and Sarine stuck a sword through to the other side, so it may be some sort of a worm hole.
It has different effects on the user, too. Jon, who doesn't like warp gates, compares using the Portal to "walking peacefully through a hallway" rather than "being brutally sodomized by rabid monkeys hyped up on drugs" as in a warp gate.
So far the only such device known acts as a door to the resting place of Goddess Anilis, aka the Giant Magic Potato. Interestingly, Sarine (who didn't know anything about the Giant Magic Potato before their visit there) appears to know that there's a real difference between a Portal and a warp gate, so maybe she's been exposed to one somewhere else. Time will tell -- maybe.