I had my shield up covering the portal to the army room from fire from the marksman. Ursula got it open and I assisted with my power to form it into an even doorway. Ursula was the first one through followed by the Plains Keeper diviner, who stepped to the side and kept an eye on what the marksman was doing. Her foresight wouldn't be helpful with the close ranged attacks that would be coming from the snow men at the launchers on either side of us. Next out were the Mountain Keepers who immediately began raising a barricade in front of us. Half of the snow men were charging us to fight in melee range while the other half headed to the ice launchers, picking up several of the fallen but undamaged ones. The launchers turned toward us and began firing through the snow men running at us, the shards passing through them without doing any harm. The barricade that the Mountain Keepers were raising was in two walls set at ninety degrees to each other with the point facing forwards, it was half a meter high when the first shards began hitting and the five of us ducked down behind it.
Jenny was the next one to exit the portal and she was halfway through when an ice shard ripped through the thread on one side, closing the portal. She was thrown forward out of the portal slamming into Ursula but was unhurt. The thread got hit twice more as I lowered it back to being horizontal on the ground and a quick assessment of the damage told me that it would take a few minutes to repair. It would be quicker to send a new thread portal to the army room so I set that to happening in the background. We would have to work with who we had.
We were all laying on the ground as the ice shards continued in a constant stream above us, forcing us to keep our heads down. I took the time to reinforce the walls while the occasional snow man tried to get around the back of them. Jenny spotted their weak point for me and I took them out with a throwing blade. Just after the third group tried that the ice shards stopped and the first wave of snow men came over the walls, which were up to a meter in height.
Jenny identified the weak points of all of the snow men as they vaulted the wall, they were all in their lower legs and feet, which explained how they were able to approach while being shot through, as well as why the shots had stopped. Ten snow men attacked at once, I took out four with my throwing blades, Ursula got three with her claws that were glowing with magic, and Jenny got the remaining three with the daggers that she had equipped from her inventory, protecting the three noncombatants from the back. Once the snow men had cleared the walls the ceiling of ice shards started up again going right through the snow men as they tried to claw down at us. The shots let up again as soon as the first ten dissolved, which only took a few seconds, and a second wave of ten were jumping over the walls.
Taking advantage of the lack of ice shards I stood up and threw throwing blades at the ice launchers, disabling six of them. The diviner sent me an alert ping with the trajectory of an incoming shot from the marksman and I stepped to the left to move out of the path.
I blocked the two snow men that were swiping at me from my right with my shield and continued throwing blades to disable more ice launchers. Ursula had cleaned up the ones that had landed on her side and had moved to the ones that had focused on me. The ice launchers began firing again, and two exploded in shrapnel where I had managed to get a throwing blade down the tube without the snow man operating it noticing. The three remaining launchers were all to my right and my shield was able to block their shots. There was a crack as the shot from the marksman went by my head moving faster than the speed of sound, and the diviner sent me another alert of four more shots. One was coming from the north where the first marksman was, but the rest were coming from the west from three different locations. I took a step back and to the side to be clear of the shots and looked to the west. Five hundred snow men were marching toward us in formation, still a thousand meters away. The origins of the new marksman shots were to the sides of the troop heading at us.
Knowing where the shots were going to pass by Jenny stood up on the platform that the Mountain Keepers provided and equipped her bow, firing rapidly and clearing out all of the snow men that were around us. We both had to dodge a couple of times as more shots from the marksmen came in, but they had no chance of hitting us when we could see the shots coming as they fired them.
"How are you seeing the shots when they aren't affecting you?" I asked. "I thought you said your foresight was limited to what happened to you."
"Your head exploding while I am sitting next to you affects me," the diviner said. "And as a Demi-AI I can slow down my perception of the shot as it would hit you in the future and trace its path back perfectly."
"So... You see me die for every shot you warn me about?" I asked.
The diviner nodded, turning to the side. That must be an uncomfortable gift to have. I turned to face Jenny.
"Are you able to shoot their marksmen?" I asked.
"Not from this range," Jenny said. "The furthest I can shoot is three hundred meters, the closest marksman is seven hundred meters."
"I could run you out there until you were in range," I said. "Stalia, would you be able to tell where a shot from a marksman was coming from if you watched from here?"
"No, my lord," Stalia, the diviner, said. "I would be able to tell you when you were going to be hit, and where. But only if you don't change your mind about what your actions are going to be."
"That should be enough," I said. "Okay, it will take us forty seconds to get within three hundred meters of the marksman to the north. I will hold my shield to cover us from the marksmen to the west, and then we can collect everyone to go destroy them."
Jenny nodded and I picked her up, holding her in front of me. I shifted my shield portal to my left arm and was about to jump over the wall when there was a flicker of movement above us. Before we could react physically I identified it as my wisp guide and sent that it was a friendly to everyone.
"The snow man progenitor has his main base to the west," the wisp said. "It is heavily defended in a valley in the mountains, and that is likely the only place where he would retreat to."
The wisp settled down behind the wall away from everyone else, shifting nervously when anyone would move toward it.
"Stay here," I said. "We will come back after we deal with the marksman to our north."
I leapt over the wall and began running north, Stalia standing up after we left. Immediately Stalia updated the simulation with a model of the back of my head exploding with a time tag placing it one point four seconds in the future. As I thought about how to dodge the prediction it flickered away, and then an accurate bullet trajectory appeared. I frowned at that before realising that the ice shard would pass by where Stalia was, and with the crack of it moving through the air she would be able to track it with ease. I stepped to the left, clearing the trajectory that the bullet would take, and continued running forward. At the exact time predicted by Stalia there was a crack as the ice shard shot past my head. That pattern repeated fourteen more times as I ran, sometimes the prediction was of a shot to my head, sometimes to my heart. Though as I got closer the accuracy of the shots was getting lower and they were getting closer together.
The first two shots were two seconds apart, the last two shots were just under a second apart. And the last three shots were aimed at my legs, trying to stop me rather than kill me in a single shot. The trajectories that Stalia was giving did get inaccurate towards the middle, where I had kept dodging to my left and the shots started missing the walls of the barricade. I moved back to my right and the predictions went back to being perfect. When we were still three hundred and fifty meters away from the marksman his shots stopped and we saw him get up from where he was laying prone and begin running to the west. It didn't look as though he had picked up his weapon, so I marked where it would be and turned to run towards where we would be two hundred and fifty meters from him. Fifteen seconds later we hit that mark and I put Jenny down and stepped to the left to cover her. The marksman wasn't dodging at all, and the representation of him sharpened up as Jenny zoomed in on him. She loosed four shots in five seconds, and a second after her last shot her first shot hit and collapsed the marksman into snow.
"Good shooting Jenny," Ursula said. "My lord, we're having a problem here. Stalia and myself are going into shock from the cold, though the Mountain Keepers are fine, if you could return quick- My lord, we're being phased out of the Winter realm."