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Warhammer 40K: What Is the Dragon of Mars

5 Minute Read
Jul 5 2024
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Something ancient and powerful was imprisoned on Mars by the Master of Mankind millennia ago – and xenos may be involved.

What Is the Dragon of Mars

The Dragon of Mars was supposedly defeated in combat by the Emperor on ancient Terra and later imprisoned under the surface of Mars. It has remained there for millennia, its influence affecting the inhabitants of that planet and leading to the creation of the Adeptus Mechanicus. It is watched over by a series of individuals known as the Guardians of the Dragon — much of the information known about the Dragon comes from these Guardians due to their ability to share the creature’s memories, the veracity of these memories is debatable however.

Albrecht Dürer, Saint Michael Fighting the Dragon, c. 1496/1498, woodcut

Origins of the Dragon of Mars

According to Adept Semyon, one of the versions of the Dragon’s memories shows him fighting the Emperor near the city of Cyrene, in Libya, around the 11th or 12th century (i.e., the first or second century M2), but also as a soldier serving Emperor Diocletian (who ruled from 284-305.M1), which implies that this battle is the origin of the story of Saint George and the Dragon.

In this account, the Emperor (described as a lone warrior knight in golden armour and a scarlet-plumed helmet, riding on a mighty charger of midnight-black and wielding a tall lance of purest silver, from which flew a long red and white banner depicting a soaring eagle grasping a bolt of lightning) fought the Dragon (described as being half crawling beast with talons like scythe blades and half loathsome bird, with an immense scaled head, a tail twenty metres long, malignant fire in its eyes, plate-like scales rippling like liquid mercury, and the light of devoured stars shining in its breast) and defeated it by thrusting his sword at a weak spot beneath the Dragon’s left wing and then tied his banner around the helpless Dragon, although he stated that he was unable to destroy it completely.

Whether this describes a literal conflict or an allegorical one is unclear – it is implied that, at some point between the time of this battle and the Age of Strife, the Emperor brought the Dragon to Mars and imprisoned it in the Labyrinth. However, as the only given record of this is the recollections of the Guardians, the exact truth is unclear. What is known is that, by the 31st millennium, the Dragon lies imprisoned beneath the Noctis Labyrinth on Mars.

Guardians of the Dragon of Mars

Adept Semyon, the Guardian of the Dragon, claims that with the Dragon sealed in Mars, the Emperor orchestrated the rise of the Mechanicus, using the Dragon’s dream that would trigger the creation of the first machines of the priests of Mars.

The role of the Guardians of the Dragon is to keep the bounds of the Dragon maintained, they are souls chosen by the Emperor for this task and their lifespans are vastly extended.


Up to the time of the Horus Heresy Adept Semyon was the Guardian, around this time he passed the knowledge of all his antecedents and the Emperor’s will onto Adept Dalia making her the new Guardian of the Dragon. She is known to have held this position for around ten thousand years.

Around the time of Dalia’s elevation to Guardian, the book that contained the secrets of the Guardians of the Dragon vanished from its place in the Noctis Labyrinth, an event said to have dire consequences in the future.

Chaotic Visions of The Dragon

The Daemon Hrangore claims that the daemons eat the souls of those that the Sleeping God of Mars eat their lifeforce, deep in the Noctis Labyrinthus a great chamber of basalt, with machines of antique silver towering around it flickering beams of unimaginable energy flowed in a glittering arc to a vast sarcophagus on the floor made of gold and adamantium.

However the Guardians of the Dragon say he is bound into a cavern beneath the Noctis Labyrinth.


Parallels to the C’tan

It can be interpreted that the Dragon may in fact be the C’Tan Mag’ladroth, commonly known as the Void Dragon. The Dragon of Mars is described as having many qualities which could indicate that it is one of the C’tan, these include:

  • The Dragon of Mars once lived in space, between the stars. (Unclear whether this info comes from the Akasha, the Warp, the Dragon’s memories or Semyon.)
  • The Guardian Semyon asks Dalia whether “the others” have already devoured all the stars – possibly a reference to the C’tan and their star-eating tendencies.
  • Dalia recognizes the Dragon of Mars as an incredibly old, powerful and exotic life-form which “had brought entire civilisations into existence and then snuffed them out on a whim” – this could be interpreted as a reference to the C’tans’ relationship with the Necron/Necrontyr race
  • In the memories of the Dragon of Mars it is said that he waged war against his own kind, which left him in a weakened state, so he hid on Terra. – this could possibly refer to the older canon materials which state that the C’tan warred amongst themselves (or post ret-con the Necron uprising against the C’tan)
  • In the description of the Dragon it is stated that his breast shone with the light of the stars he had devoured – possibly a reference to the C’tans’ role as star devouring entities
  • During his fight with the Emperor, the Dragon’s scales are described as being silver in colour, harder than steel and yet rippling like liquid mercury when struck hard enough – this is very similar to the Necrodermis which the C’tan’s bodies were made from
  • Codex: Necrons (3rd edition) relates a conversation between Abaddon and the Daemon Hrangore, where an entity dwelling in the Noctis Labyrinth is described – although few details are given, the simple fact that this is in the Necron Codex would certainly imply a connection
  • Codex: Necrons (3rd edition) also desribes an assualt on Mars by a Necron fleet, although their intention is unknown it does imply a connection between the Necrons and Mars.

~There are some Heretics who claim this myth is an aspect of the Omnissiah – they should be reported to the Inquisition at once.

Author: Larry Vela
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