- This article is about the short story. For the titular celestial event, see Embrace.
"The Embrace" is a short story by Christie Golden published in the anthology Folk & Fairy Tales of Azeroth. It is illustrated by Cory Godbey. The story is an origin myth for the Blue Child, Azeroth's smallest moon, and the rare alignment known as the Embrace.
The story is told by an unspecified narrator to an audience they repeatedly call "O my dearest, O my loves".
The White Lady carries out her task of watching over the sleeping Azeroth and her people during the night, while the Sun holds the same duty during the day. Each night when the Sun sets, the magic of twilight creates a bridge upon which the Lady can walk into the sky from her rest. The Lady loves watching the world and its peoples and guiding the ocean tides, but realizes that this is a distant love and that she longs for someone closer to her. While her friends, the stars, turn to their families to form constellations and the Sun loves himself and does not need a family, the Lady grows saddened when she realizes that there is no one to be her family.
She continues her vigil, sometimes turning her face away from the world but eventually always returning. One day, as she looks down on Azeroth and its people, she feels such a fierce love for them that the Blue Child comes into being—the narrator notes that even the old stories do not say exactly how. This begins the most joyous time in the cosmos, known to the present only as half-remembered tales of beauty and harmony: the Sun and stars glow brighter than before and Azeroth herself smiles in her slumber. The White Lady and the Blue Child enjoy a time of bliss with each other, dancing, playing and, during the day, slumbering in each other's arms. The Child eventually starts asking questions about where she came from and about the mortals and world that she and her mother are watching over. The Child eventually asks what she was before becoming herself, to which the Lady replies that the Child is everything she wished for and that loving her makes her happy. In response, the Child solemnly asks what she needs to make her happy. Having not previously realized that her daughter was unhappy, the Lady stays silent and sheds tears onto the world below.
The next evening, the Lady wakes up and discovers that the Child has disappeared. Despairing, she asks the stars where the Child has gone without result and then races across the dusk bridge to the Sun to ask the same of him. Though he intimidates her with his size and heat, she remains by his side, her fear and anger causing her to turn red—thus, the narrator notes, the moon turning red is a sign that she's angry. After not receiving any help from the Sun either, the Lady whispers the same question to Azeroth, who remains asleep and doesn't answer. In her anger, the Lady refuses to continue her charge of watching over Azeroth and turns her face away from the world to wait until her Child returns. As a result, the world speeds up, the tides cease, many cities are drowned, and the people of Azeroth plead for the Lady's return. The stars tell the Lady of the suffering she's causing and suggest that the Child might be lost and that she'll come home if she sees her mother's light again. Accepting the advice, the Lady resumes her old position in the night sky, returning the world to normal.
Time passes, but the Child does not return. Growing fearful again, the Lady starts shining even brighter, growing larger and moving closer to Azeroth until she outshines even the Sun. The constant light causes the tides to rage, the mortals to be deprived of rest, and crops to burn, and the world descends into chaos and starvation. One denizen of Azeroth, a human mother grieving for her dying child, begins to sing:
- 'Pon the surface of the world, / A mother weeps and sighs. / She holds her child close to her, / And watches as she cries. / 'Bove the surface of the world, / A mother weeps and grieves. / She wants her child close to her, / And oh, she still believes / Her lost Blue Child shall return, / And join her in the skies. / But while you wait for yours, White Lady— / So my child dies.
The stars hear this song and pass it along to the White Lady, who realizes that she is hurting other mothers who also love their children. She dims her light, retreats to her old duties, and waits for the Blue Child to find her. The human mother teaches her song to her daughter, who teaches it to her own daughter and so on, and the narrator notes that this is how this time and this song is still remembered and that only the Lady knows how many have sung it.
One day the Child suddenly returns, happier than ever before, and jumps into her mother's embrace. All the inhabitants of Azeroth stop to watch the spectacle, and the narrator states that there has never been a joy greater than the Child's return to her mother. Their combined light stretches across the sky like the love connecting all parents and children. The Child tells her mother that she has traveled to distant worlds and interacted with stars, moons, and suns. The Lady realizes that by going off alone, her daughter has grown wise and become a person all her own. She also realizes that her Child will ultimately grow restless and leave again, but that she'll always return when she is ready. Thus, the narrator explains, most will never see the White Lady embrace the Blue Child, but the sky is luminous with their joy when they reunite and, in the meantime, the Lady continues shining her light on the world.
It's never stated what (if any) Azerothian culture the story or its narrator hail from. The story's illustrations depict the Lady and Child as elven figures, implying a connection to Elune and night elven mythology. However, the only race referred to by name in the story is humans, a race that the night elves were unaware of and isolated from for the majority of their history, and the narrator's claim that the human mother passing her song down through the generations is the reason the time period is still known today rather implies that the narrator themself is a human.