GU Crossroads near Foozle node:
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GU Secret Entrance #38967

The Great Underground Highway is an ancient system of subterranean toll roads stretching throughout both the Eastland and Westland provinces. Constructed during the reign of Duncanthrax in the mid to late seventh century, the system has since fallen in ruin and much of it is in a state of impassable disrepair.

The highway system traverses caverns, crosses ravines (Great Underground Bridges), lines chasms, and tunnels through the most stubborn rock stratas. The constructed tunnels are vast, the ceiling unable to be seen in most locales, and the width easily able to make way for a large army and frequently so vast that one is unable to see the other wall. The road itself is made of cobbled clay bricks that in many places, even today (where natural disasters have not yet struck) retain their smoothness and look freshly baked even though they are incredibly ancient. Entire structures of supports are in place to carry the weight of the earth overhead. Its walls are strong enough to resist a grue's fist and claws.

In the days when the highway was constructed, only the royalty of ancient Quendor and the great wizards of the day used it, thus the wizards and their apprentices put up an elaborate billboard system. The walls are still are covered with symbols and writings in the ancient Quendoran language, some of the plainer symbols looking like bottles, weapons, or books. When FROTZ was cast upon a patch of script, the letters begin to burn and glow with a dazzling flash of light, followed by the next patch flaring to light, and the next and the next on both sides of the highway. The endless corridors are revealed in coruscations of white radiance and blue and red. Some begin to blink on and off, while others begin to twinkle and sparkle in elaborate eye-catching patterns, and still others merely gleam with steady luster. Those wizards in the advertising business did not want their burning out unexpectedly, so they made the spell that turned their on just as big and bright as the one next to it when it was turned on that that just as soon as anyone using the road cast FROTZ.

Originally the magical complex was designed so that direction did not matter when traversing the Great Underground Highway. It always took the traveller exactly where they wanted to go. Now with the disrepair of the Highway, much of this implementation is dormant or broken.

Rest stops and toll gates are frequent along the Highway, as well as numerous "Great Underground Secret Entrances" to the surface (#38967 near Port Foozle lay at the bottom of an expansively deep well). In the ninth to tenth centuries, the standard toll was one zorkmid, but tolls ran as high as Zm3 depending on the point of departure. The numerous toll gates are usually manned by hired gnomes with their troll lackeys. Some toll gates are complex, consisting of a main door, with a second door that falls behind any traveler as they approach the main gate, trapping them inside (and the noise wakes any lazy sleeping gnome).

Branches of the GUH include: Number 2, near Egreth, goes from Bozbarland to the Glass Maze; Number 90 runs from the White Cliffs Beach to Port Foozle; Number 95 spans an immense distance from its northern terminus of Flatheadia to Fublio Valley; and one branch even extends all the way to the Gray Mountains. In the Westlands, branches extended throughout Mauldwood, Greater Borphee, and even as far south as Dolo Finis in the Jungles of Miznia.

History tells us that with all Zork in his grasp and nothing left to conquer, Pseudo-Duncanthrax (Drespo Molmocker) founded the Frobozz Magic Construction Company to undertake his massive underground project in Arch 19, 668 GUE, which included the construction of an elaborate network of subterranean roadways known as the Great Underground Highway. While the original intention of the underground realm was simply to expand the empire, there was one additional purpose behind the ambitious construction project: Pseudo-Duncanthrax planned for them to link every major city and castle in Quendor and the outlying provinces, and when they were complete, scores and scores of its soldiers would pay each of them a wonderful surprise visit. Then his rule would be truly complete.

Pseudo-Duncanthrax required the energy of the seven most powerful wizards of the Borphee Guild in unison with every living being to complete his mammoth vision. In order to maintain control of the Krepkit and the other six most powerful wizards, the king continued to hold Berknip (their beloved child wizard) hostage, although he relocated him to Antharia, thereby manipulating the wizards to use their powerful KATPIL spells to move earth wherever he wished.

The king coaxed the remainder of the populace into laboring for the highways with a cache of VAXUM scrolls. With both the wizards and almost every citizen of the empire employed for the project, work quickly started on the new underground tunnels and Pseudo-Duncanthrax began expanding downward in both the eastern and western lands. The natural caverns in the eastern lands would be expanded tremendously, and new caverns and passages would be dug in the western lands, chiefly in the vicinity of Egreth Castle and Borphee. This outset of this entire underground project would later become known as the Great Labor.

Once the identity of Pseudo-Duncanthrax was discovered, and the rightful king returned to the throne, a debate was held in the Borphee Royal Palace on what was to be done with the tunnels. At the urging of the newly appointed court wizard, Satchmoz the Incomparable, the decision was made to complete them, as it was good to link all the great cities of Quendor with one massive road system. The cost would be offset by selling space on the walls to merchants who wished to advertise their business. Thus for the next twenty years (668~688 GUE), cavern-building continued at a breakneck pace, causing the true king to retain the title of Bellicose.

With the death of Dimwit Flathead in 789 and the continual decay of the Flathead Dynasty thereafter, by 883 GUE, decades of non-maintenance of the Empire's infrastructure began to take their toll with massive cave-ins and uncrossable fissures. Over the next centuries, earthquakes and other natural disasters would cripple many portions of the Great Underground Empire, though due to their magical nature, many smaller segments still retain their full functionality.