This man is white. Simply enough.
Animus’s skin is completely untanned - it is is almost as though he is made out of liquid paper. His hair is a grey-white, his body is unmarked by moles, freckles or anything else. His eyes are grey.
Whenever speaking, Animus’s voice is always stuttering, as though (to put it ironically) he had seen a ghost. His gaze is always fearful, glancing around him, and his breathing is shallow.
Every Character has a history. Animus’s history is not as mundane as the average person.
Several hundred years ago, there was a person known as Animus the Explorer. He was a famous man, with golden brown hair, a dark tan which showed much travel, and a reknown for bieng able to find the most efficient routes from any one place to another.
Animus the Explorer died in one of his adventures, which I will not go into - but it was assumed he was slain and dragged off by a mountain cat. Nobody ever found his body. Some superstitious people claim a more mysterious demise, wherein ghosts took him away.
Funnily enough, superstition is close to truth in this case. In the final exploration of Animus, he came upon a place in a mountain where the barriers between his world and the spirit world were thin. Whilst walking through this place, the very world had flickered around him. He blinked, and found that he was no longer in his world - the scenery was the same, but it was nighttime. The trees had a wispy feel to them, and faint whispers tingled at the edge of his senses. A glance down, and he saw his treasured topaz amulet drop to the ground, flickering. But strangely, his necklace was also still around his neck. He did not have a chance to inspect this duplicate necklace, however, as terror then rushed over him and he fled without even knowing why.
Detail will not be given about the spirit world in which Animus had found himself in, but suffice to say, he returned to his world eventually.
Three hundred and forty seven years after the ‘death’ of Animus the Explorer, a lone figure stumbled down from the mountains. Ghostly white and naked, shivering with constant fear. The only spot of colour on this mans body was a shimmering topaz hung about the mans neck.
Although Animus is terrified at everything and anything, he will go on dangerous adventures. He is able to act as a guide and scholar, and will help out, though he will never fight (He’s much too terrified to even HOLD a weapon).
The reason Animus goes on adventures, is because the truth about him is that he is dead. He is a ghoul without ever dying. If he were to be slain now, he would fall back into that spirit world, and return to life some several hundred years later once again.
The reason Animus returns to the real world, is because he believes he can ressurect himself. If he can find that duplicate topaz which was dropped from his neck, and return it with the one still AROUND his neck, he believes the living, colourful Animus will return to the pale, dead form that he is now.
Additional Ideas (1)
A few additions/modifications to throw out there.
1) Make the time span shorter. I think you lose the legend of him if it takes 100s of years for him to come back. I think 10 would be plenty for the legend to sink a bit in age and the telling grow. Then when he reappears people will know who he is, trust him despite the fear, and maybe even keep him a secret.
2) Why keep him a secret? Because during the 10 years he is gone he continues to adventure in the other realm to find the necklace. During these times he finds treasure, hidden caves, mysterious beasts....etc. When he comes back, his knowledge of that which is not known is incredibly valuable. But finding him is pure luck so those that do don't want to lose him.
3) He continues to lead adventurers despite his fear because he has an additional legend on him that "The one who leads will be the one who is led. He who is led is the one that can be found again." Or something. So it is foretold that he will be found again, however he can only be found be leading others. Just has to find the right people that will bring him to his old life. So he continues to help any adventurers that ask in hope that they are the ones.