The First Empaths were, as the name suggests, the first group of people that developed supernatural empathy. It is not known precisely how this came about, as it occurred during Imperial or possibly pre-Imperial times, and surviving records from that era particularly concerning the Imperial Healers' Guild are nearly nonexistent.
The legend of the First Empaths was first revealed via an ancient journal discovered  in the ruins of the Imperial Healers Guild of Throne City. The journal was nearly destroyed, but one entry was translated:
- "We agreed. We should have never have retreated so far from society as to allow what has happened to happen. We grew apart in our power, as our power made us grow apart. Now it is too late. We can no longer live amongst the beings of this world. We can barely tolerate contact with one another, even at such distances, yet we cannot be alone. Never alone. We, who healed so many, can never be healed. Our gifts have grown too strong to be blocked, or even dulled for more than moments. And yet, we must face up to our responsibilities. One of us shall be chosen, and we shall cast that one out, may we somehow forgive ourselves for such an act. That one shall be tasked to do what must be done, while sanity and power remains. The children must be free. Only in freedom can there be growth and development. That which was begun must never be allowed to take place. The one tasked shall ensure that those with the knowledge eradicate all such from the records, before they themselves must forget. The power that allows so much must be channeled and lessened in others. The empathy cannot be removed from the children to come, but it must be channeled only into the transference of injuries, so as to prevent it from growing too great, as it has with us. Safeguards must be put in place, and some shall be designated to ensure that they are followed, so that the future is secured from such peril. We can only hope that our designated Guardian shall be able to do what must be done successfully. I pray it won't be me..."
It has been stated, as this passage implies, that every child born after whatever triggered this event was born with a small inherent degree of supernatural empathy. The vast majority of people instinctually suppress this empathy early in life and so suffer no ill effects from things like killing. Trained Empaths instead learn to remove this suppression instinct and develop that empathy instead. This reveals some insight to the nature of Empathic Shock - which is simply the sudden reflexive activation of this suppression under certain conditions.
The identity of only one of the First Empaths is known, a mysterious creature by the name of Trylaine that revealed itself in recent times to pass along the ability of Manipulation. The power of its empathy was such that its physical form endlessly shifted to mirror everything around it, from race to gender to hair and eyes, though it is most often referred to as 'she.' After passing along knowledge of Manipulate, she appeared to ascend into what appeared to be a higher state or plane of existence, which we are told is the fate of any Empath that lives long enough to see it.