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Zhao Ming, the Iron Dragon, Ruler of the Western Provinces, and Lord of Shang-Yang is one of the Cathayan Dragons.[1]


As one of the rulers of Cathay, he is an immortal Dragon who can take human form. This makes him an incredibly powerful combatant, an amazing sorcerer, and a natural leader.[1]

He rules over The Western Provinces of Cathay and the Ivory Road that leads into the Mountains of Mourn. A hardened frontier warrior, he maintains the western edge of the empire and keeps the Desert Clans in order.[2] This area is less defended, if less chaotic (and Chaotic), area of the world. The Western Provinces contain beasts and men of all sorts coming from further West, as well as the regular incursions of Skaven and Ogres from the Warpstone Desert and Mountains of Mourn. The creation of the Great Maw still hangs heavy on this area, even as an uneasy peace maintains.[4]

Many trade caravans leave Cathay from Zhao’s domain, and particularly to and from the mighty city of Shang-Yang – seen as a gateway to the West – and should they be successful he will reap the wealth and prestige. This is particularly important to the Iron Dragon as he is not as beloved by his father as his older sister, although rumours say the Moon Empress has a soft spot for her son.[6]

Zhao Ming is a natural born warrior, though less innately skilled than his sister to the North. He is a talented alchemist and shows great preference for the art among his armies, leading to the presence of cabals of Cathayan Alchemists - in particular the House of Secrets - in Zhao Ming's realm. This causes much frustration in those who find the insidious magics worrying for the empire,[2][4] such as the Jade Dragon Yuan Bo, who sees the encouragement of sorcerous organizations outside of the Celestial Court as dangerous to the empire. These sorcerers help the Iron Dragon in his experiments, and many magical weapons and armour are forged in the Dragon’s cities.[6]

These cabals use the city of Shang-Yang as a base for their expeditions into the Warpstone Desert – some never return. Others come back loaded with exotic ores that end up in the forges, with the Iron Dragon as enthusiastic as any of the other Alchemists to begin experimenting. Zhao Ming is as skilled an artisan as those drawn to him since he has had a Dragon’s lifespan to perfect such expertise and research the mysteries of arcane metallurgy.[6]

The strange elements found in the Warpstone Desert have only deepened Zhao’s fascination and understanding of alchemy but also many fear his mind is permanently damaged from the exposure, and any eccentricities or erratic behaviour he displays is very worrying to his siblings.[2][4] While the other Dragons are cold-blooded and detached from the mortals they rule, the Iron Dragon will share a jape, or even a drink with his followers. Such mortal behaviour inspires loyalty within his legions but makes him stand apart from his kin.[6] Furthermore, Zhao Ming pays little mind to edicts from his father and Yuan Bo, stating that the Alchemists are not sanctioned, and in fact finds it amusing to cause Yuan Bo to worry.[7]

This makes him a far more gregarious character than his eldest sister, Miao Ying, and he gets especially offended by her aloofness.[5] In any case, even if his siblings look upon him with suspicion, the Moon Empress is very fond of her son and will shield him from ire when the family assemblies become less than harmonic.[6]


  • In Chinese, the Iron Dragon's name is written with the characters 昭 (Zhāo - "Dawn; to make clear/illuminate") and 明 (Míng - "Brightness"), which can be translated as "Dawn's Brightness" or "Illuminating Light".[3]



Enter the World of Grand Cathay - Total War: WARHAMMER III