Elrick is described as follows:It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody, and from the loose sleeves of his yellow gown emerge two slender hands, also the colour of bone.
Elric was the last emperor of the stagnating island civilization of Melniboné. Physically weak and frail, the albino Elric must take drugs—later retconned to mean special herbs—in order to maintain his health. In addition to herb lore, his character becomes an accomplished sorcerer and summoner, able to summon powerful, supernatural allies by dint of his royal Melnibonéan bloodline. Unlike most others of his race, Elric possesses something of a conscience; he sees the decadence of his culture, and worries about the rise of the Young Kingdoms, populated by humans (as Melniboneans do not consider themselves such) and the threat they pose to his empire. Because of his introspective self-loathing of Melnibonéan traditions, his subjects find him odd and unfathomable, and his cousin Yyrkoon (next in the line of succession, as Elric has no heirs) interprets his behavior as weakness and plots Elric's death.
As emperor of Melniboné, Elric wears the Ring of Kings, also called the Ring of Actorios, and is able to call for aid upon the traditional patron of the Melniboné emperors, Arioch, a Lord of Chaos and Duke of Hell. From the first story onwards, Elric is shown using ancient pacts and agreements with not only Arioch but various other beings—some gods, some demons—to assist him in accomplishing his tasks.