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A group of men suffers a curse that makes them immortal (or undead, perhaps) but changes them into bloodthirsty animals basically, no longer rational human beings. For this reason they are imprisoned in a tower and forgotten about.

However, one man for some reason does not lose his mind like the rest. He fends off the monsters until they leave him alone, but forever after he has to sit in this cold, dark tower, constantly suffering hunger and thirst but unable to die, until many decades later he is finally called to go on his quest, etc.

What reasons would this man have for not leaping off the balcony to kill himself, or falling on the spear he has with him? He is pretty sure no one is ever going to open the tower again, and it might be 1000 years of more misery.

I think either he could be scared of an eternal "hell" after he dies, but that seems little different than the hell he's currently in, so he might want to gamble. Or he could be scared that his body will be totally disfigured, but since he's immortal, he'll still be alive with just have even more misery to deal with.

I think Sanderson's Elantris has something similar, that once the immortals suffer wounds they just feel that extra pain for eternity. Is that the most logical choice here? Or is there another available option?

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closed as off-topic by Cyn, Elmy, Mołot, Bellerophon, Confounded by beige fish. May 27 at 11:26

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  • $\begingroup$ I recommend checking out Dr. Who season 9. The trip "the long way around" is along these lines, except they took it roughly a million times further. That being said, this is a difficult question to put up on Worldbuilding. We can't really speak to the motives of a single character. You might try putting this in the sandobox to get some feedback. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon May 27 at 4:49
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I'll check it out. I suppose instead of this character specifically, I'm wondering about the most logical reasons in general. What could make it so that an immortal man can't escape his fate so easily? $\endgroup$ – HiddenBabel May 27 at 4:56
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    $\begingroup$ There's a bigger issue: "He wanted to die but nothing could kill him, so eventually he stopped thinking." How can your immortal man remain sane without several liters of amnesia potion? $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles May 27 at 5:09
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    $\begingroup$ You say that the immortal would consider his situation as bad as hell. Why do you think that merely suffering hunger and thirst would equal the tortures of Hell when devils actively torture the damned? Do you have so little faith in the skills of human torturers, let alone diabolical ones, that you think they can't inflict many times worse pain than hunger and thirst? Why would you expect a religious person to think that their present natural pain could be equal to the supernatural pain of hell? $\endgroup$ – M. A. Golding May 27 at 15:14
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You can achieve anything in the world if you have two corners of the triangle "Time, Workers, Money".
When you have infinite amount of time you the other two corners can easily be equally zero. And in your case "Workers" equal 1. Now it's up to you what is the purpose of your hero. But whatever it would be to get out of the tower he have all the time in the world.
Remember "Shawshank redemption"? IT took years to dig the escape tunnel. Your immortal have millennium to dig his way out of the tower. Nothing, NOTHING would withstand continuous effort.
Your immortal want to get out. And this is only reason he need to have to not kill himself. He might have doubts but he might still be alive. Like a hero in Castaway.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is pretty much what I was thinking. He's immortal. If it comes down to a contest of who will last longer him or the stone wall holding him in he know's he'll win. $\endgroup$ – James Nelli May 28 at 18:34
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Hatred

"When I get out, they will pay"

Hatred is a great motivator. People will cut off their own nose to spite their own face for hatred. Just look at divorce court. People will spend years and millions of dollars just to see who wins the cat.

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  • $\begingroup$ This could work depending on the circumstances, as long as he isn't in there so long he begins to forget things. $\endgroup$ – HiddenBabel May 27 at 5:24
  • $\begingroup$ Focusing on hate should help you remember. $\endgroup$ – Thorne May 27 at 5:30
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    $\begingroup$ Read Papillon by Henry Charierre and your perspective may well change. He describes his imprisonment in the hell of French Guyana, and while hatred drove him originally and kept his mind focused on escaping, in the end it gave way to just wanting to be free and not do anything that'd get him sent back there. The hatred and desire for revenge pretty much gave way to acceptance that those who'd sent him there were not personally to blame for what they'd done. $\endgroup$ – jwenting May 27 at 5:51
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I think it depends a lot of the person's sense of what immortality means. If he knows that he will never die until the end of the universe (if there is such a thing in that universe), even being imprisoned for ten thousand years will be a short blip in a lifetime stretching over millions or billions of years.

To pass the time until he is released (or his prison crumbles into dust), he might tell himself stories, e.g. imagining the past histories of his fellow inmates, perhaps from clues on whatever clothes they still have, or imagining what he will do with his immortality once he gets free. If he had children before his transformation, he might imagine their lives and that of their ancestors, inventing a complicated family tree starting with himself, writing novels in his head about the adventures of his descendants.

Or, since there apparently is an open balcony, he might spend his time watching the seasons pass and studying the people and animals that pass by.

Or he might use his spear to cut the hair off his fellow undead, braiding them into a rope that will eventually allow him to climb down from the balcony and escape. Why he doesn't succeed in this endeavour might be a story in itself. Perhaps just before he has enough rope, some brainless immortals steal his rope and fight over it until it is torn to shreds, making him lose hope for a century or two. Which is still nothing next to eternity.

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You might consider having them approach immortality with a greater-than-human understanding of time.

To us, a thousand years of relative isolation (save the monsters down the stairs) sounds like an impossible torment. But to someone who actually grasps the meaning of ageless immortality, what does it really matter? Perhaps whatever made this individual immortal also gave them an appreciation for the meaning of infinite time.

Even if they remained trapped in the tower until the mortar between the stones crumbled and the walls fell away, what are those five thousand years in comparison to ten million more?

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He's an introvert.

A few personality traits of introverts would help this character. He is fine with solitude, in fact he may prefer it over the company of other people. He is introspective, and self-aware – he's probably gone through the same madness as the others but then simply "reasoned" his way through it.

He may have had spiritual training as a monk, or have a coping mechanism through meditation or other mind-body wellness philosophies. He has a personal discipline routine, one developed before he got the curse to help with his other issues.

His "other issues" are likely a higher level of sensitivity and neuroticism. He has always been prone to second-guess, to over-think, and to re-process objective facts verses his own emotional reactions. In other words he thinks when most men act. More than that, he thinks about what he thinks about, causing him to approach his madness in a very different way .

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Are you sure he'd keep his mind? Decades in true isolation, possibly even in the dark? The brain is not like a computer running 'Personality 2.5', with memories just files, stored in isolation. It is constantly changing - skills honed get sharper, others wither.

The person leaving the tower will have lost speech, many motor skills and maybe even some capabiliy to visually recognize individuals ...

Perhaps he was unable to kill himself, because he was not even conscious - that, coupled with some physical preservation, might account for him still functioning as a human after all that time. Say in a struggle with one of his co-inmates he fell into an ice-cold well, and decided to stay there 'just for a while, until things tide over', but the icy water basically slowed his metabolism (metabolism always a weird point in immortals) to a stop. So subjectively, for him, only a few months have passed.

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