When Carter comes to, he finds the cats in the middle of looting the wicked city of the freaky monsters.  They’re happy to see him, too, inasmuch as they remember him from Ulthar.  The little black kitten who befriended him turns out to be the grandchild of the leader of the cat army, who in return for that kindness offers him an escort anywhere on Earth’s dreamland he wishes to go.

The looting is cut short when the Saturn cats show up.  Lovecraft feigns confusion as to why the cats of Saturn would enjoy playing on the dark side of the moon.  I mean, obviously Earthly cats would like the moon, but why cats from Saturn?  Anyways, the cats from Saturn heard about the fight and come to investigate.  They have a mutual protection pact with the freaky monsters, so the Earthly cats have to flee.

Carter and the cats leave, which is to say, all the cats grab Carter and they jump and fly through space and land on a rooftop in Dylath-Leen, which is where Carter requested he be dropped off.  Carter still wants to take a ship to Oriab and see the image on Mount Ngranek.  I don’t know why he doesn’t just ask the cats to drop him off directly at Ngranek, but there you go.

Cats, everybody!  They’re awesome!  We’ll see more of them later!

Back in Dylath-Leen, Carter learns his whole lunar adventure took a week, which means he still has about two weeks to kill, waiting on the boat from Oriab.  He spends that time preaching to people about the evils of the devil-sailors with their black ships, but the folk of Dylath-Leen don’t want to listen.  So: selling the “fat black men of Parg” by the pound of regular ol’ cannibals, fine.  Selling them to devils working for crazy shapechanging lunar frog-monsters, though, that’s something Carter will speak up against.  Enh, Lovecraft.

A week later the ship arrives in harbor — a nice, conventional ship, not rowed by monsters!  Carter is overjoyed by that, let me tell you.  It takes a full week to unload the ship’s cargo (resin from Oriab’s interior, pottery from Baharnese artisans, little pumice figurines carved from the lava of Mount Ngranek) and reload it with local goods (wool from Ulthar, dyed fabrics from Hatheg, little ivory figurines carved by the people of Parg).  Carter spends that time befriending the ship’s captain and talking about the graven image.  He learns that it’s a well-known story on Oriab, though most of the folk decline to make pilgrimages out to the mountain to see it.  They just buy little pumice reproductions of it and then tell people they saw it.  The trip out to the image is a difficult hike, and the captain doesn’t know whether anyone currently alive has seen the image firsthand.

“It’s guarded by nightgaunts, you know,” the captain says darkly.

“What’s a nightgaunt?” asks Carter.

“Let’s talk about something else,” says the captain.

“Kadath?  My beautiful sunset-city?” asks Carter.

“No dice,” says the captain.  “Can’t help you there.”

 

They sail out of Dylath-Leen for Baharna.  It’s a ten-day trip.  The first half of the voyage is pleasant and low-key, but on the fifth day all the crew get antsy.  The captain tells them to chill, and apologizes to Carter.

“It’s just that the ship will be passing over a fabulous sunken city,” he says.  “The crew get antsy just because a certain percentage of ships that pass through here are lost with all hands, never seen or heard from again.”

That night the ship is becalmed, and the moon very bright.  Carter can look down into the clear water and see the sunken city, with streets and houses and a ruined temple with sphinxes, now just the home of dolphins.  One basalt square temple is in better repair than the others, and phosphorescent fish within create the illusion of habitation, which Carter has to admit is a little creepy.  With a spyglass he peers down into that temple’s courtyard, and sees a man drowned and lashed to a monolith there.  He was glad that a rising breeze soon took the ship ahead to more healthy parts of the sea.

They pass a ship bound for Zar, and finally, on the eleventh day, arrive at Oriab.  Mount Ngranek can be seen in the distance, behind the mighty port of Baharna.  Baharna’s pretty awesome: it’s got big crystal stone docks, and the city is built of big crystals with stone steps and lots of terraces and breezeways between buildings.  They get fresh water from an underground aqueduct that runs through the city from Ngranek to Lake Yath on the south side of the city.  On the far side of Yath lies the ruins of an older city, all clay bricks, abandoned and not spoken of.  Two big lighthouses, called Thon and Thal, guide ships into Baharna’s harbor, and as it gets dark there the whole city lights up with lamps and the terraces sparkle such that that steep and climbing seaport became a glittering constellation hung between the stars of heaven and the reflections of those stars in the still harbor.

Baharna: way nicer than the moon.


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Primary Sources: the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath 8, Baharna — No Comments

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