aka Age of Stone
The First Age was a period of recovery and a transition from the dominion of the older servitor races to the new races that dominate the world today. Key events of this time are detailed below.
The Azakaal Empire (-4000 to -2500)
The last of the great kingdoms of the old races was the Azakaal Empire. It was ruled by the Sith'aal and covered virtually all of northern Zarkhir. It was on a slow decline, but after being ravaged by a great beast of legend (possibly the Tarrasque), its collapse was accelerated.
Kingdoms of the New Races (-3000 to -2000)
While the Sith'aal and those like them were weakening, other races like the Sylvari and the Runir were growing stronger. The elves and dwarves advanced from their tribal origins to establishing kingdoms and civilized traditions that defined their cultures for ages to come.
Humans were emerging at this time as well, but they remained tribal for much longer than the elves and dwarves.
Return of the Nepharim (-2500)
During the First Age, the Nepharim returned from their self-imposed exile. They despaired to see what had happened to the idyllic place they had left and vowed to restore the world to the state it once enjoyed (it's commonly believed they felt responsible as well). The Nepharim needed more magical power than they possessed to do this, which led them to the creation of a great crystal orb known as the Aetherstone. The Aetherstone was intended to draw in virtually all the magically energy of the world into one concentrated focal point. With that power, the Nepharim believed they could effect the change they were seeking.
Needless to say, this plan was not well-received by most of the rest of the world. Though the Nepharim believed their intentions were utterly noble, they were viewed as a villainous evil that had to be destroyed. A massive dragon-led host peopled with warriors of the civilized races marched against the Nepharim. After an epic battle that raged for years, the ancient wizards were defeated and the Aetherstone shattered.
The Nepharim Teach Magic to Humans (-2300)
Unbeknownst to the dragons, Sylvari, and races of the First Age, as well as most of their own people, after their return a small faction of the Nepharim had secretly begun teaching humans how to use magic. This rogue group possessed the power of foresight and had seen that they would be defeated after building the Aetherstone. They tried to convince their brethren that the orb would only bring them ruin, but their concerns were dismissed. In an effort to create a legacy in which their knowledge would live on, the Nepharim faction went among the primitive human tribes and selected those who showed the most promise to be the first human wizards.
The humans took to the Nepharim's teachings quickly and eagerly. They learned a great deal, but the Nepharim didn't have enough time to teach them everything they would have liked. Much of their knowledge was preserved in tomes, scrolls, and grimoires and given to the human magicians to be used when they were ready. Many sages believe the teachings and literature of the Nepharim were responsible for bringing about human civilization centuries earlier that it would have otherwise occurred.
Ilidari-Drakari War (-2200 to -2100)
Civil war tore the elves asunder in the First Age. Large numbers of Ilidari were seduced by the promises of dark powers and turned from the principles that had guided their people for centuries. The war was long and bloody with many elves slain on both sides of the conflict. Eventually, the Ilidari were victorious, and their evil counterparts, now known as the Drakari, fled to the Underworld.
Humans Build the City of Aan (-2000)
When the Nepharim taught magic to select members of the various human tribes, they had intended for their students to pass their knowledge onto their fellow tribesmen. This was not the case; some of the wizards shared what they had learned, but most guarded it jealously, realizing the power it gave them over others.
Over time, these magicians gathered together to build their skills and plot dominion over their people. They built Aan, the first great human city. It was an architectural marvel (unrivaled to this day), and stood for years as the de facto "capital" of magical power. However, after a few decades, Aan was virtually abandoned when the wizards factionalized and left the city to found the empires of the Second Age. Its original location has been lost; it is believed that maps or records detailing where Aan was located were intentionally destroyed.