Many, many tens of thousands of years ago, there was only one intelligent species living on the surface of Aardsham. Called now the Ur-People, they ruled over the whole of known lands, and had advanced control over both magic and technology, even going so far as to be able to create sub-races for specialized tasks, many of who live in the present day as one of the many myriad of demihumans and humanoids.
The First Empire collapsed when The Cataclysm, and enormous explosion of some type, struck Aardsham. It complete shattered the continent, resulting in the Formation of the Turbulent Ocean and the island chains scattered there. The Cataclysm destroyed the heart of The First Empire, and the resulting chaos and environmental shifts due to the The Cataclysm, led to the rapid decline and collapse of the Ur-People, and all that is left are scattered remains of there outlying cities.
The Elves are the closest descenants of the Ur-People; the Ur-People use a variant of the Elven Script in their writings. Although technically, the Elves use a variant of the Ur-People script, their tongue has not been spoken since shortly after the collapse of the First Empire.