Primary Sources: the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath 10, Mount Ngranek
As Carter climbs Mount Ngranek he’s reassured by occasional signs that pumice-gatherers have come this way before him. Handholds, marks carved in the rock, that kind of thing. He sees little quarries and excavations where some choice vein or stream of lava had been found. In one place a narrow ledge had been chopped artificially to an especially rich deposit far to the right of the main line of ascent. He makes his way up, and finds a trail winding around to the other face of the mountain, where the carving is.
Carter’s a pretty crazy badass, did you know that? He doesn’t feel fear, most of the time, although up atop Ngranek, with the air thin and cold, the rock face on one side and the void on the other, he comes close. Carter’s also an expert enough dreamer to climb even nearly sheer surfaces, which I’m not sure how that works, but Lovecraft has better things to do than explain just how dreaming works in his cosmology.
Finally Carter reaches his goal! He lost the narrow trail a ways back and down, and as he lifts himself onto a ledge almost at the snowline, he sees the cliff face above him has not been left untouched since nature shaped it, but rather has been carved into the shape of a god. Again, time to just quote a full paragraph:
Stern and terrible shone that face that the sunset lit with fire. How vast it was no mind can ever measure, but Carter knew at once that man could never have fashioned it. It was a god chiselled by the hands of the gods, and it looked down haughty and majestic upon the seeker. Rumour had said it was strange and not to be mistaken, and Carter saw that it was indeed so; for those long narrow eyes and long-lobed ears, and that thin nose and pointed chin, all spoke of a race that is not of men but of gods.
Carter’s overjoyed, partly because he’s succeeded in his quest to find this carved face (never mind that until recently in the tale it was referred to as multiple figures of gods dancing, rather than just one god’s face) but mostly because he recognizes the ethnicity of the god in question. His plan, you remember, is to find the part of the Dreamlands where the natives resemble the gods, on the grounds that it must be there that the gods live and interbreed with humans. This plan might have been unworkable if he hadn’t known where to go, but luckily this isn’t Carter’s first trip through the Dreamlands.
Back at the beginning of our story Lovecraft mentioned that Carter had been to the city of Cephalais, ruled half the year by King Kuranes, another dreamer whom Carter knew in the waking world. Cephalais is a port city, and at least once a year a ship comes in full of sailors matching this face’s features.
So all Carter has to do is climb back down Mount Ngranek, cross the Yath valley to Baharna, board a ship back to Dylath-Leen, walk up the Skai river and across the bridge to Nir, return through the forest of the zoogs and emerge out on the north side instead of the south side, then cross the garden-country Oukranos to the city of Thran, where he can take a ship across the Cerenarian Sea to the Tanarian Hills, beyond which lies the land of Ooth-Nargai, the greatest city of which is Celephais. Then wait for the annual ship of weird Northern sailors, get them to take him back to their homeland, find the gods, and somehow talk them into letting him have his city back. Simplicity itself!
Carter’s feeling pretty awesome about the situation, let me tell you, but then the night-gaunts show up and ruin his good time.
“Carter’s a pretty crazy badass, did you know that? He doesn’t feel fear, most of the time…”
He doesn’t have time to feel fear, he’s too busy passing out.