The loss of the army was a huge blow to the Hiofur and Pdnio clans. While their population was still larger than that of the Wioul, the thousands that the Yoiwid had killed would be greatly missed among the two clans.
The war was over, and a meeting among the leaders of the four elfish clans was arranged in the city of Niqhis, which had been the capitol city during Nioew's reign.
Miree and the others set out for Niqhis as soon as they heard. The four Wioul who had joined their army went back home with stories of the battle in the canyon.
The group arrived in Niqhis a day early even without horses. Qinyf found them a room in an inn that was nearly full. The city was huge, and there were no trees anywhere, so Uroie found himself sleeping on the roof.
The evening was the first chance Miree had to talk to them. Because of the upcoming meeting, Qinyf had suggested she not practice fighting or magic, but spend all her time concentrating on what was coming up.

Miree climbed onto the roof, and saw Uroie studying the stars. "Do you want to be alone?" she asked.
Uroie quickly sat up. "No," he said. "You can come up if you want. Is something wrong?"
"No," said Miree. "I'm just a little nervous about tomorrow. I don't really know how to negotiate treaties."
"It will probably be easy, or else Qinyf would have spent four hours trying to explain it to you," said Uroie. Miree laughed half heartedly, and Uroie said, "I could help you practice negotiating."
Miree smiled at him. "How will you do that?" she asked.
"Well," said Uroie. "The main part of negotiating is to give the other side something they want while keeping something you want."
"I know that," said Miree. "Alright, what do you want to negotiate for?"
"Well," said Uroie. "You tell me something you want. Out of the deal, I want to make sure we get married. After all, you will be empress, and if you want to ignore a betrothal from when you were a baby, you could and no one would protest."
Miree thought about laughing, but she didn't know if Uroie was serious. He smiled at her, and Miree said, "I accept your offer of marriage, but I have a few conditions."
"What are they?" Uroie asked.
"First, I know I have a temper," Miree said. "As empress, I'm going to have to hold my temper. If I ever start complaining, I want you to tell me to shut up. Or, better yet, just kiss me so I can't talk."
"I think I could handle that," said Uroie. "What are your other conditions?"
"I saw the castle today," Miree said. "There were trees in the courtyard, but there were towers a hundred times higher. We're sleeping in a tower, not a tree."
"Alright, I agree to that as well," said Uroie. "Do you have any more conditions?"
"Just one more," said Miree. She took a deep breath, and felt her smile disappear. This last request was real. "Tell me you love me."
Uroie looked in her eyes, then smiled. This smile was different from his smile he'd had when they'd been joking. "I love you," he said.
Uroie leaned forward and kissed Miree. Miree felt like her heart was beating in her throat and fire works were going off in her head.
"Uroie?" Xiorij called from the bottom of the stairs. "Are you up there?"
"Let's just ignore her," Miree whispered.
Uroie was about to agree, but Xiorij said, "I'm going to come up there. I'm just giving you some advanced warning."
Miree sighed, and Uroie asked, "Why does she always have to interrupt us?"
"She has the worst timing ever," Miree agreed. "I guess I'll see you in the morning before the meeting. Good night."
"Good night," Uroie said as Miree disappeared down a ladder and Xiorij came up. "What do you want that couldn't wait for morning?" Uroie demanded.
"Oh, nothing," said Xiorij. "I just wanted to make sure you and Miree weren't going to do anything before the wedding that you'd want to wait on."
"Just wait until you fall in love," Uroie warned. "I'm going to make you suffer, and you can see what it's like."
Xiorij stuck her tongue out at her step- brother. "I can't wait," she said.
Miree walked to their room. There were some interesting sounds coming from the direction of Qinyf's and Sarah's room, which is right next door. Miree grumbled to herself that Xiorij hadn't felt the need to interrupt them, and went to bed.
The next morning, Wiyla was the first to greet Miree at the palace. Her cheeks were stained with tears; she must have just heard the news about Tiq.
"Are you the Dnis representative?" Miree asked.
"Llilil and I are representing the Dnis together," said Wiyla with a smile that looked forced.
"Maybe you should rest and we could find a different representative," said Miree.
"Don't you act like that, too!" cried Wiyla. "We knew the quest would be dangerous when we sent our son on it. At least we know he died bravely. Tiq wouldn't want us to spend all our time crying over him, so I'm going to do this."
Miree smiled sadly for Wiyla. She wasn't surprised at all by her decision.
Slowly, the other representatives arrived. The Pdnio leader looked very young. He couldn't have been the leader long, because Pseiogriv had been the leader before he'd died.
The leader of the Hiofur looked like he was unhappy to be there and wanted to leave.
When the leader of the Wioul clan arrived, Miree gasped. It was the old man who had protested to the Wioul joining their army.
The meeting began soon after he'd arrived. The Pdnio leader spoke first. "We surrender, and will recognize Miree the daughter of Nioew and Joseph as our leader."
"The Dnis also recognize her as our leader," said Wiyla while Llilil nodded his agreement.
The old man scowled before saying, "The Wioul will recognize Miree only if she can guarantee that our people will be treated with the same respect they had when they were great."
"I can't vouch for the actions of others," Miree said. "However, I understand that things are bad for the Wioul, and I will use all the power I have as empress to see to it that things are made better."
"In that case, I recognize you as the leader of the Wioul," the old man said.
Everyone turned to the Hiofur leader, expecting him to do the same. "I refuse," he said.
While everyone acted shocked, the leader continued. "We may not have an army, and I suppose if we don't join your empire we'll be hunted down, but it would be better to run for our lives than to live with a leader who hates us. The Pdnio may be content to spend the rest of their lives being punished for standing against you, but not the Hiofur."
"I don't intend to punish anyone," Miree said. "If you don't recognize me as your leader, I suppose that is your choice. Of course, the empire will most likely dominate trade, and I will do all that I can to improve the lives of my subjects while the Hiofur try to live on their own. As for the Pdnio, they won't be punished. There has already been too much violence and I intend to spend my rule uniting the elfish people as one, not punishing because some people belong to a certain clan."
The Hiofur representative didn't seem to know how to react to that speech. He looked like he wanted to argue, but there really was nothing to argue about. He had no choice but to recognize Miree as the empress of the newly reformed Elfin Empire, which he did.

Miree and Uroie's wedding was beautiful. Ester was Miree's maid of honor, and Wiyla, Xiorij, and Sarah, who was now six months pregnant, were bridesmaids. Qinyf was Uroie's best man. Among the guests invited were those involved in politics, of course, but also those who had grown up with Miree in her village, and the elves from the caverns.
Exactly nine months after the wedding, Miree and Uroie had their first child. They named him Tiq.
Qinyf continued to stay at court as Miree's advisor and the ambassador for the Wizard's Society for a few years, but after a while he, Sarah, and their daughter Megan left to raise their family somewhere quieter.
Xiorij worked as Miree's advisor. She was a political genius, and her advice was invaluable to Miree. Wiyla and Llilil returned to their homes in the caves, but they wrote to Miree often. Ester made herself at home in the castle. She also made a point of telling embarrassing stories about Miree when she'd been growing up. And, as the storytellers say, they all lived happily ever after.