Primary Sources: the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath 18, Across the Cenerian Sea Again
Eventually Carter’s ship comes in, and sure enough, the sailors aboard it clearly possess traits putting them in the same ethnicity as the godlike features of Ngranek. You might expect Carter to rush these guys and be all, omg, take me with you! but in fact he plays it very cool. He just stalks them for a week, eavesdropping, ducking out of sight, that kind of thing. He figures if he lets on that he seeks unknown Kadath, Leng, the abode of the Gods, et cetera, the sailors will clam up.
Shortly before the ship leaves port again, Carter books passage, telling the sailors he’s an old onyx miner and wishful to work in their quarries. They set sail, northward bound, aboard the Inquanok ship. Lovecraft describes it as teakwood with ebony fittings and traceries of gold, and Carter’s cabin has hangings of silk and velvet. Also, the ship is very lovely and cunningly wrought, he just comes out and says, in case we didn’t guess that on our own.
Aboard the ship, Carter tries to make friends with the sailors. They’re happy to tell him all about Inquanok, and about their onyx quarries, and what a shame it is that cats refuse to live in Inquanok. But what can you do? They’ve got Leng right there; you can’t blame the cats for being skittish.
They don’t want to talk about Leng, or the desert that guards it, but they do go on at length about how the very best onyx quarry sits far to the north, at the edge of this cold desert whose existence the men of Inquanok did not care to admit. The onyx pulled from the ground there was so awesome, so huge and shiny and onyx-like, that those who looked upon it were struck with terror.
It’s a terrible place, they say, and abandoned and best avoided, and besides, no one knows what happened to that accursed onyx. Best, they say, to abandon it to the shantak-birds.
Carter recalls that the Great Ones’ castle atop unknown Kadath is of onyx, a little tidbit you might recall from way back in at the very beginning of this story.
Northwards they sail, and every morning when the sun rises, it’s a little further southwards in the sky. The days get shorter and shorter, until they stop entirely, and you’ve got just dusk and night.
Three weeks out of Celephais they come within sight of land. The first trace of the northern peaks is a single mountain, an island spiking up from the sea, barren and cold. Carter asks about it, but the sailors tell him it has no name and no one ever lands there, on account of every night you can hear howls and screams from it. So Carter doesn’t feel too bad when they pass it by.
Two days after that, they sail into the harbor at the city of Inquanok, largest port in the land of Inquanok. Lovecraft describes the city as possessing qualities very common in the Dreamlands — it’s tall, it’s archaic, it’s rare and curious. The buildings are all black and high, carved on every side with flowers and patterns whose dark symmetries dazzled the eye with a beauty more poignant than light. The buildings are also very pointy: some ended in swelling domes that tapered to a point, others in terraced pyramids whereon rose clustered minarets, says Lovecraft.
In the center of the city, as in the center of Ulthar and Celephais before them, stands a massive tower higher than any other building in town: the local temple of the Elder Ones, ruled by an old High-Priest sad with inner secrets.
Primary Sources: the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath 18, Across the Cenerian Sea Again — No Comments
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