Thousands of years ago, Kal-Sharok was the capital of the dwarven empire. It is considered as a "great thaig" along with Orzammar and Kal'Hirol. While enjoying good trade with the Tevinter Imperium due to its proximity to the Tevinter capital of Minrathous, the seat of power was eventually moved to the current dwarven capital, Orzammar, in -1170 Ancient (25 TE) during the turmoil in the Imperium following the death of the Archon Darinius but also in order to focus on the trade with the surface. Soon afterwards, large construction projects are being started in Orzammar while the taxes drained by Orzammar from Kal-Sharok's trade profits begin to grow burdensome.
In the aftermath of the First Blight the darkspawn kept pushing underground, which virtually brought the empire to its knees. As they had to close the passages leading to most of the thaigs, in an effort to save Orzammar, High King Threestone declared lost to the horde the kingdom of Kal-Sharok as well as the kingdoms of Hormak and Gundaar in -40 Ancient (1155 TE).
In recent times, however, it has been discovered that Kal-Sharok miraculously survived the darkspawn onslaught in 9:12 Dragon, 952 years after Threestone's declaration of being lost. However, the few dwarves living there are said to be extremely reclusive and unwilling to re-establish contact with the rest of the world as well as being deeply embittered towards Orzammar for abandoning them. However, an active communication between the two remaining dwarven cities does exist, as King Endrin Aeducan is seen discussing trade contracts involving Kal-Sharok with the heads of House Meino and Bemot in eve of the Fifth Blight. This communication is hindered however as Orzammar demands Kal-Sharok to submit to their authority, as it used to.
With far fewer resources than Orzammar and no known access to the surface, Kal-Sharok has had to do some very questionable things to survive. It is believed that when the darkspawn invaded, the kings of the old empire retreated to Kal-Sharok, where they were able to defeat the darkspawn but suffered heavy casualties. It has also been intimated that Kal-Sharok's isolation and perhaps their interaction with the darkspawn during this time may have changed them in some unknown way. Descriptions of Kal-Sharok dwarves depict them as physically different than their fellow Orzammar dwarves. They are described as being pale, and possibly "tainted" in a way that is hard to define.
It has been suggested that the isolation of Kal-Sharok after its separation from Orzammar may also not have been due to fear or disinterest but for some reason as yet unknown. Kal-Sharok dwarves apparently continued to trade with the surface during their isolation and this puts in doubt the official date of Kal-Sharok's "rediscovery" by Orzammar in the Dragon Age.
Cadash Thaig's destruction
Trading With Kal-Sharok
My approach was carefully observed. This was not a thaig unused to watching its boundaries. I got the impression that if I'd been one of his Orzammar cousins, our meeting would've been swift and bloody. That is, if I'd been allowed to find the passage at all. As it was, he was polite and efficient, and he knew well the current market for everything he offered. Clearly their isolation is not because of fear, and certainly not disinterest. Among his wares, I saw the latest fabrics of Val Royeaux and volumes by a Free Marcher poet three centuries dead. This only added to my doubt of the official year of Kal-Sharok's "rediscovery" as declared by the Assembly of Orzammar. I didn't mention this to my host. As curious as I was, there was an undercurrent I found unsettling. I must stress that he and his helpers were professional and honest throughout. But there was something I can't describe. While he remained hooded the entire time, he looked me square in the eye when our deal was struck, unashamed.I lived through a time of Blights. I've felt the gaze of a Grey Warden and seen the corruption of his prey. Why I remembered both in that moment, I still can't explain.—On meeting Novas Sturhald in Kal-Sharok, excerpted from the journals of Ser Evrain Abernache, noble merchant-scholar
The centuries of isolation endured by Kal-Sharok after its separation from Orzammar has caused the thaig to develop in a far different way than that of Orzammar. Where the influence of surface races and culture have affected Orzammar's culture and development to a certain extent, the same is not the case with Kal-Sharok. Both thaigs share the same base language but Kal-Sharok dwarves speak with a regional dialect that reflects language far less impacted by interaction with outsiders. Outsiders are only slowly being allowed into the secretive thaig.
Kal-Sharok does not recognize the Paragons of Orzammar and Orzammar likewise does not recognize their Paragons. In Kal-Sharok Paragons are not rendered as giant statues as in Orzammar, but as massive posthumous wall carvings that span lengths of the Deep Roads. Additionally, Kal-Sharok Paragons are nominated based on their promised deeds and not on past deeds.
While Kal-Sharok diverges from Orzammar in many ways, the thaigs share the concept of the Legion of the Dead. Kal-Sharok's unit is known as the Rock-Knockers, a less stoic version of the Legion of the Dead, and less committed to inevitable death, honorable or not.
In matters of day-to-day life, Kal-Sharok also places far less importance on castes than Orzammar and members of the Kal-Sharok Assembly can be drawn from any family, not solely from influential noble families as in Orzammar.
The Assembly of Kal-Sharok meets in the Sharokovar thaig.
Known Kal-Sharok dwarves
- Lyulf Azaharg: A Kal-Sharok lord described as "the young, pale lord of a failing people; the last ember of a dying fire, or the glowing spark of a new one".
- Novas Sturhald: A Kal-Sharok merchant.