Nehemiah’s Speech

From the Sojourner Series, placed in Book 6, Ravens Rebirth, just before the chapter "Kingdom's Hope." Here is Nehi's little speech to his men before beginning the work of clearing the Judge's House of the invaders.


Fifty pairs of eyes focused on him from the barn floor. Nehi stood a little taller and gave them what they waited for.

“All right men, listen up. You have been pulled from your normal stations because we are taking over the kingdom tonight. You are now serving under the command of Nehemiah Hillson. You were told nothing for security reasons, if you didn’t know yourself you couldn’t tell anyone else. We are the beginning of this resurgence. We’re going after the top tonight. We fifty-three souls are going to invade the Judge’s House and stop any orders from coming down to the troops from their leaders. We’re going to cut the head off the snake that’s eating our kingdom and, Lord willing, it will leave the rest of the enemy floundering and weak. And if this resurgence is to work, the enemy must be weakened. This is a time for each of you to play the man. Remember that God fights for us tonight, brothers, and remember this as well; the rest of the kingdom is relying on us. If we fail, your brethren die, and your kingdom crumbles. And no, that isn’t an exaggeration.

“On to specifics. Twenty of you are detailed for the gates, Squads One and Two, and you will be under John Mickelson. Your job is to see the two gates are cleared of the enemy, and all news stopped from leaking out into the town. And you have to do it without raising an outcry. If our attempt tonight is found out before we’re ready, we’re lost. You will take the gates and hold them, silently and efficiently, and then you will let Squads Three and Four through to begin the work of clearing the house of its interlopers. Any questions from our twenty gate men?” A low murmur of incredulity ran through the two squads, but it was squashed quickly by the grizzled John Mickelson, towering among the ranks. He raised his muscular hand and Nehemiah acknowledged him.

“Well, sir, it’s not so much of a question as a comment,” he said. “Since I’ll probably be dead in a couple of hours, I wanted to say I’m proud to be dying under your command, Nehemiah Hillson. My father served under your grandfather, helped train your father, and I am delighted to be serving under his son.”

“Thank you, Mickelson, but it’s not quite as hopeless as you make it sound,” Nehemiah said. “We’ve been given the time to plan.” He indicated the two tall, capable men by his side. “Tanzid Loutrec and Peter Lovine are going in early with me. We will already have the gates mostly cleared for you and things started for the next two Squads.” Another murmur ran through the crowd, but Nehemiah quickly stopped it, his body stiffening and face hardening. “Once inside the house I will have no unnecessary cruelty. This will be understood, right now. I know no one in that building is clean of Christian blood. But I will not have the world looking at our work tonight and calling us bloody tyrants. Our Savior will not be maligned by his workers forfeiting His justice for temporary revenge. We will take the house, and blood will be spilled, and justice will be done. But it will be justice, not revenge. Is that understood?” Murmurs came from every throat, and the whole body of men stirred and stiffened. The noise rose in an instant, turning to cries of complaint, heated arguments, lifting from the dusty floor to the musty hay loft. Nehemiah’s voice cut through it.

“I get it, all right, shut up!” he shouted. The noise quieted. “Look, I get it! Remember, my own parents were murdered that night, and my sister and I taken. I was placed as Al Abid’s personal slave. For four months not a day went by without being tortured for my faith, until my sister and friend got me out–”
“Four months isn’t much,” a scowling man at the front commented, dark and angry. Nehi looked at him. Starvation clung to his sallow skin and hung on his powerful frame, and his face crawled with angry memories. “You have no idea what two years of–”

“I know Abid,” another voice rose near the wall, clear but fast and…scared at even the name? Every eye spun that direction and picked out a thin man standing alone, his arms around his chest and his eyes on the ground. “He breaks anyone he gets, no one lasts more than a week with him.” Around the room feet shuffled and eyes shifted away. The complaints dimmed to murmurs.

“He is very good at what he does,” Nehi agreed, his face tight with experiences that swallowed his years. The men watching him stirred uncomfortably and the murmurs quieted. Nehi’s head lifted a little higher and he swept the room. “The point is, I get it. Believe me. We will never be fully clean of these invaders, not in our generation, the hurt they’ve done runs too deep. They deserve to feel what they’ve given us. But, brothers, remember this. We are all traitors and blood-spillers too, in our hearts. Your own reaction tonight proves it again, and you know it.” Silence fell with a sudden completeness. “Yet we stand forgiven and whole and able to use the common sense God’s given us. I’m not saying go easy on them! This is a war not a waltz. I’m just telling you not to let the emotions get ahead of your judgment. Remember your name tonight. You are all sons of the great King, act like it. Now, we’re going to be late for this work if you keep objecting, take your orders and shut up.”

Another twenty minutes of briefing and everyone had their own part settled. Nehemiah shook hands with the Squad leaders, and stepped out into the night with his little team.

Just him, Tanzid, Peter, and the open sky now. And they had to clear the way for the fifty men coming behind them.