1926 The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath

(Virgil Finlay)
Written 1926.10-1927.01, never finalized for submission, but published posthumously in "Beyond the Wall of Sleep", Arkham House, 1943.

Opening Statement:
     Three times Randolph Carter dreamed of the marvelous city, and three times was he snatched away while still he paused on the high terrace above it. 
What in Brown Jenkin's Name..?
     Dream-explorer Randolph Carter takes an epic journey through the Dream lands in search of an audience with the Great Ones at Kadath. However, behind the scenes, Nyarlathotep rallies dark forces in opposition to Carter's quest.
  • Randolph Carter dreams of a Grecian city which he cannot explore. After praying to Kadath for assistance, the dreams stop entirely. Carter resolves to visit Kadath and the Great Ones. Dream priests warn Carter of dangers such as the demon sultan Azathoth at the center of infinity (surrounded by drums and flutes), as well as the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep, messenger of the Other Gods.  Nonetheless, Carter proceeds down steps to the Gate of Deeper Slumber and the Enchanted Wood.
  • In the wood he finds secretive, burrowing Zoogs, who he is friendly with (they had previously aided him on a journey to Celephais and King Kuranes). One elderly Zoog tells Carter about the Pnakotic Manuscripts in Ulthar. Avoiding a slab with a large ring on the ground, Carter leaves the forest and finds 300-year-old Atal in Ulthar (from "The Cats of Ulthar", "The Other Gods"). He learns that images of the gods can be found on mount Ngranek. Using this knowledge he hopes to be able to track the gods down.
  • Joining a caravan, he eventually reaches the basalt port city of Dylath-Leen, which is preoccupied by a visit from the creepy black galleys crewed by strangely turbaned merchants. He questions an oriental merchant familiar with the Plateau of Leng, but learns nothing, and is forced to wait for a ship from Ngranek to arrive. Carter is then drugged and kidnapped by a merchant from the black galley, heading towards the abyss of Azathoth and Nyarlathotep. The black galley launches over an abyss and heads for the dark side of the moon. 
  • Flying over ruins and white fungi, the galley lands on a lunar sea, eventually reaching a coastal port run by blind white frog slavers with tentacle snouts. Carter is brought to a tower and held prisoner until one night when he is brought outside to be handed over to Nyarlathotep. Fortunately, cats (of Ulthar) suddenly appear and kill off all of the frog slavers and turbaned galley men. The leaders of the Ulthar cats greet Carter, and with the approach of their enemy the cats of Saturn, take Carter back to Earth in a fantastic leap. 
  • Back in Dylath-Leen, he eventually boards the ship  heading back to Ngranek. They pass over a sunken city with a glowing temple and a man tied down to an odd high monolith ("The Temple"?). Debarking in Baharna, he rides a zebra towards Ngranek. One night while sleeping, his zebra is killed by web-footed figures. At Ngranek, he climbs to the hidden side and finds the carved face of the gods. He realizes the face resembles the people of Celephais. 
  • Suddenly captured by bat-winged night gaunts with featureless faces, horns and tails, he is carried inside the mountain to the Peaks of Throk, near the Vale of Pnoth, home of the crawling Bholes. Carter makes a plan to contact a surface ghoul to help him (one of the subjects of Richard Upton Pickman’s paintings). Eventually a rope ladder is lowered, and Carter narrowly escapes being eaten by a giant Bhole. 
  • A canine ghoul helps him out of the abyss and takes Carter to a now-transformed/canine-like Richard Pickman, who is unable to help Carter reach Celephais, due to the hostile, hairy giant Gugs. Because they attempted to call forth Nyarlathotep and the Other Gods, the Gugs were banished below the Earth under the stone slab with the iron ring. Pickman tries to convince Carter to wake up and "restart" his quest from the Gate of Deeper Slumber, but Carter insists that they chance the Gugs. 
  • Reaching the Gugs’ area through a cemetery, they skirt a cave inhabited by the lethal ghasts. A giant pawed Gug appears and is attacked by a swarm of ghasts. Carter and his ghoul friends climb up towards the stone slab, ambushing a lone ghast on the way. Reaching the surface, Carter heads through the enchanted wood towards Celephais.
  • In the wood he overhears a war meeting of the Zoogs, planning to raid the Cats of Ulthar in retaliation for their earlier attack on the moon. Carter sends a message to the cats and they soon meet Carter at the edge of the wood. The cats make a preemptive strike on the Zoog war council and Carter brokers a peace agreement between the two forces. 
  • Eventually reaching the golden-spired city of Thran, Carter books passage to Celephais on a galleon, hoping to eventually speak with the Inquanoks there who resemble the gods of Ngranek. In Celephais, Kuranes tries to warn Carter away from his quest. Later, Carter books passage on the ship of the Inquanoks, without telling them about his quest. At one point they pass a great jagged rock in the sea which howls and causes bad dreams (not R'lyeh, sorry - see below). 
  • Eventually they reach Inquanok and its Temple of the Elder Ones. At one tavern, Carter catches a suspicious glimpse of the oriental merchant from Leng he had questioned back at Dylath-Leen. After visiting the sights of Inquanok, Carter heads north in search of clues to the whereabouts of Kadath, with the man from Leng apparently following him. After a long journey, Carter comes across ominous gigantic stone figures thousands of feet high. He is captured by the man from Leng and his Shantaks (elephant-sized flying horse creatures).
  • Carter is flown further north towards Leng, and finds it populated by demonic creatures related to the crew of the black galley which had taken him to the moon for Nyarlathotep. Eventually they reach the monastery home of the yellow-masked High-Priest Not To Be Described. In the monastery he sees bas-reliefs depicting the black galleys from the moon and their subjugation of the people of Leng. The moon-beasts used the jagged “howling” rock in the sea as a base. He also sees historical records of the ancient city of Sarkomand and night gaunts outside Leng. Eventually he is brought before the flute-playing High-Priest. When Carter sees what lies beneath the High-Priest’s robes he dashes out of the audience chamber.
  • Eventually he finds himself at the gates of the ancient city of Sarkomand. Unfortunately a black galley is docked nearby. He finds the moon-beasts and their slaves torturing some of the canine ghouls which had helped him escape from the underground Gugs previously. Carter resolves to go back underground to get help from other ghouls to help form a rescue party. Night gaunts take him to the ghouls and he explains the situation to Pickman. The ghouls mount night gaunts and raid the moonbeasts and their semi-human slaves. The ghoul prisoners are freed and their captors taken underground to be fed to the gugs, ghasts and bholes. 
  • Carter, Pickman, the ghouls and night gaunts board the black galley and head towards the howling crag (moonbeast island) in the sea. After a pitched battle, the night gaunts rid the island of the moonbeasts (taking them back to underneath Sarkomand). The moonbeasts stage a counter-attack but are temporarily repulsed after a long battle. Returning to Sarkomand, Carter asks the ghouls to help him reach Kadath. Pickman and his army of ghouls and night gaunts agree to take him wherever he pleases.
  • At the cliffs of Inquanok, Carter’s forces learn that they should avoid the northern wastes of Leng, since they held weird bases allied with the Other Gods and Nyarlathotep. Carter’s force proceeds northward from the Inquanok double-headed stone giants into the desert. Later they notice with horror that the two-headed giants have come alive and are following them. They speed away and eventually encounter a mountain climbing into the sky, on top of which is the castle of Kadath.
  • Carter had hoped to make his case before Great Ones before the Other Gods and Nyarlathotep could arrive to stop them (since the night gaunts only answer to Nodens, they would be able to resist the Other Gods). However Carter and his friends are captured by strange winds and are transported into the castle of the Great Ones as prisoners. Carter is eventually addressed by the pharoanic leader of a trumpet-playing procession, and is told that the Great Ones have departed Kadath and the Earth and have gone to the paradise-like temple city which Carter has been questing for. He also tells Carter that the temple city is actually a conglomeration of Carter’s fond childhood memories of his hometown in New England. He offers Carter a Shantak so that Carter can fly to the temple city and convince the Great Ones to return. He then reveals that he is actually Nyarlathotep.
  • Mounting the Shantak, Carter flies away from Kadath. Unfortunately he soon realizes that Nyarlathotep has tricked him and that the Shantak is delivering him deeper into the outer void towards Azathoth and his drums and flutes. Recalling that the temple city was created from his own memories, Carter leaps off the Shantak and uses his own powers of recollection to return him to Earth. Nyarlathotep tries to block Carter but Nodens comes to Carter’s aid. Eventually, Carter wakes from the dreamquest in his Boston home, while back at Kadath, Nyarlathotep taunts the Great Ones who have returned to their rightful place. 

Essential Saltes:
     The slant-eyed man had set the curious lamp upon one of the high and wickedly stained altar-stones by the pit, and had moved forward somewhat to talk to the High-Priest with his hands. Carter, hitherto wholly passive, now gave that man a terrific push with all the wild strength of fear, so that the victim toppled at once into that gaping well which rumor holds to reach down to the hellish Vaults of Zin where Gugs hunt ghasts in the dark. In almost the same second he seized the lamp from the altar and darted out into the frescoed labyrinths, racing this way and that as chance determined and trying not to think of the stealthy padding of shapeless paws on the stones behind him, or of the silent wrigglings and crawlings which must be going on back there in lightless corridors. 
* * * * *
     "Hei! Aa-shanta 'nygh! You are off! Send back earth's gods to their haunts on unknown Kadath, and pray to all space that you may never meet me in my thousand other forms. Farewell, Randolph Carter, and beware;  for I am Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos." 
From Dr. Armitage's Notes:
  • Meeping, glibbering.
  • References Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Arkham, Kingsport, Innsmouth, Nodens the Lord of the Great Abyss, the Pnakotic Manuscripts, the high lama of the Plateau of Leng, the hairy cannibal Gnophkehs, Elder Ones and Kadath in the Cold Waste.
  • 1st mentions of:
    • Night gaunts (inspired by DorĂ©’s illustrations for Milton's "Paradise Lost")
    • The Seven Cryptical Books of Hasn
    • the Sign of Koth
    • bholes
    • Shantak birds
    • gugs
    • ghasts
    • the Elder Sign
    • Peaks of Throk
  • Story connections to:
    • Polaris
    • The Doom That Came To Sarnath
    • Celephais
    • The White Ship
    • The Cats of Ulthar
    • The Other Gods
    • The Strange High House In The Mist
    • The Temple
    • As well as the 4 other Randolph Carter/Richard Pickman stories: 
      • Pickman’s Model
      • Statement Of Randolph Carter
      • The Unnamable
      • The Silver Key

The Horrible Conclusion:
     And vast infinities away, past the Gate of Deeper Slumber and the enchanted wood and the garden lands and the Cerenarian Sea and the twilight reaches of Inquanok, the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep strode brooding into the onyx castle atop unknown Kadath in the cold waste, and taunted insolently the mild gods of earth whom he had snatched abruptly from their scented revels in the marvelous sunset city. 
Read it here.

Follow'd by "The Silver Key".