Character story: The Great War Begins

Within a few years after Barristus joined the Chorrol Guard, the Great War broke out with the Elves of the Aldmeri Dominion. The emperor Titus Mede II ordered the soldiers of the empire to gather under his banner in order to wage war against the Elves.  As every city in the empire, Chorrol had to send a detachment of soldiers for the Imperial Army. Many of the guard members volunteered, as did Barristus who was around the age of twenty by then.  The evening before he left  Aerius told him his last advice before leaving:  “You will encounter many difficulties in the war. No matter how desperate the situation may be at times, don’t forget son, the strongest soldiers are the strongest at heart. That is what matters the most. Talos guide you.”
Weary soldiers at the bank of Niben
Barristus first saw combat near Bravil. The situation got worse by the day. Lord Naarifin's Elven army attacking from Elsweyr seemed to be unstoppable. Leyawiin quickly fell and Bruma got surrounded. Barristus’ legion was one of the few that tried to break the siege of Bruma without success. There were fierce clashes along the shore of the Niben Bay.  He killed his first foe there. It was during a night raid when an Elven patrol got ambushed by the Imperials.  Barristus wounded one elven soldier with his sword but the dying Elf fought valiantly and retreated inch by inch only towards the direction of the Niben. At the end he drowned in the water like most of his comrades who survived the initial assault. Experiencing the war at first hand was very different from what he heard in the songs and stories. There were not many acts of heroism, gallantry and glory. There was vast misery, treachery and endless suffering for both soldiers and citizens instead. He saw many times his fellow comrades begging for mercy before their death but the Elves gave none.
In those days he met the soon to be famous Tullius the first time. Tullius was a young Tribune leading a cavalry unit of the rearguard and his already evident talent for tactics and strategy was starting to show.  His many attacks on Elven supply columns and the harassment of their vanguard made it possible for the field legions to withdraw in a more or less orderly manner. Tullius’ feats earned him the rank of General by the end of the Great War. 

Barristus' route in the beginning of the war
While Barristus’ legion was retreating slowly towards the Imperial City he was engaged in many smaller encounters where he showed his value in combat by killing many Elves while himself was only lightly injured. He was getting along well with the fellow legionnaires and showed to have good grasp for unit tactics as well.  Seeing all that, his commander appointed him to command a small unit and promoted him to the rank of Quaestor.  By the time they reached the Imperial City walls, one third of his legion were dead or severely wounded.  The past years of the war took a heavy toll on the Imperial Army as a whole.  After being completely isolated Bravil finally fell to the Elves. 
Soon after reaching the capital, Barristus’ legion was re-deployed near Cheydinhal for rest and refit. By that he escaped the encirclement and the sacking of the Imperial City. His legion spent the winter preparing for the next encounters to come. Hearing about the fall of the capital many people were starting to give up hope. Knowing that the emperor could escape from the encirclement gave some hope though.