10 Best Leggings To Hide Muffin Top

Updated on: September 2022

Best Leggings To Hide Muffin Top in 2022


Homma Activewear Thick High Waist Tummy Compression Slimming Body Leggings Pant (Large, Black)

Homma Activewear Thick High Waist Tummy Compression Slimming Body Leggings Pant (Large, Black)
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90 Degree By Reflex – High Waist Tummy Control Shapewear – Power Flex Capri Legging – Quality Guaranteed - Black Large

90 Degree By Reflex – High Waist Tummy Control Shapewear – Power Flex Capri Legging – Quality Guaranteed - Black Large
BESTSELLER NO. 2 in 2022
  • POWER FLEX FABRIC. The exquisite construction and high durability of these 22” capri leggings are unrivaled. The 87% Nylon 13% Spandex/88% Nylon 12% Spandex, Heathered Colors: 44% Nylon 43% Polyester 13% Spandex fabric was developed to endure everyday wear and machine washings to last for years. Consumers love these high waisted capris for everything from workouts at the gym to lounging around the house.
  • HIGH WAIST TUMMY CONTROL. Our Power Flex Capris have a high waistband for better tummy control. Say goodbye to muffin top and hello to a smooth, flat stomach. These yoga capris provide gentle compression to your midsection, giving you a toned and trim look. Our high rise workout capris are a popular women’s style for their excellent fit and soft comfort. The 4 ½ inch high waistband gives women that extra boost of confidence to look and feel their best.
  • PREMIER DURABILITY. Among the many benefits of these workout capris, you’ll discover that the high waist promotes both compression and support, while the streamlined fit will make you feel strong and confident to take on whatever the day brings. In addition, a gusseted crotch helps maximize free movement while interlock seams minimize rubbing and chafing. Plus, with a hidden pocket in the waistband, you’ll be able to stash your gear safely and go wallet free!
  • RELIABLE, WELL-LOVED BRAND. 90 Degree by Reflex is a lifestyle brand that combines style, comfort, fit, and performance. The high quality activewear is both affordable and accessible, perfect for fitness enthusiasts and everyday athleisure. Rest assured that you will receive a quality product from Amazon’s #1 seller of athletic leggings and other athleisure products. Consumers love our products and reviews speak for themselves. Get on board with the brand that men and women are raving about!
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R862-OS CATmouflage Print Fashion Leggings

R862-OS CATmouflage Print Fashion Leggings
BESTSELLER NO. 3 in 2022
  • Our Bestselling Print Leggings -Make sure to check for new items!!!
  • Fitted, Tapered leggings that hit between calf and ankle; Great layer piece. / Measurement Provided on Description Below
  • Machine-washable, recommended cold hand wash, hang dry
  • **WARNING** Please make sure to check that the product you are purchasing is "Sold by LEGGINGS DEPOT" and not any other company. Products from sellers other than "LEGGINGS DEPOT" may not be the same fit, color, fabric or quality. We are unable to guarantee the quality of products purchased from other sellers, and will not be able to provide customer service for such purchases.
  • Visit this link for more styles! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073PLQBCR

Reebok Women's High Waisted Capri Workout Leggings - Cropped Performance Compression Gym Tights - BlackBerry Wine, Small

Reebok Women's High Waisted Capri Workout Leggings - Cropped Performance Compression Gym Tights - BlackBerry Wine, Small
BESTSELLER NO. 4 in 2022
  • VERSATILE: These high waisted workout pants are perfect for yoga, running, and everything in between. Never miss a beat with these bottoms. We provide the pants, you provide the lifestyle. Reebok leggings are now also available in plus sizes 1X, 2X, and 3X.
  • KEEP GOING: The workout leggings are crafted with quick dry fabric, that is specifically designed to wick moisture from your skin. Stay dry and comfortable during the most intense gym sessions and never have to stop or slow down again because of sweat.
  • COMPRESSION FIT: Fit to support you, these activewear tights are designed to hug your legs and move with you through your workout. Supportive compression material can help increase blood flow and circulation, support muscles movement and reduce muscle fatigue.
  • MOVE WITH FREEDOM: Lightweight polyspan fabric moves with your body providing support as you bend, stretch, and jump. Our compression pants are designed to be unrestrictive and breathable for complete freedom of motion.
  • PERFORMANCE FABRIC: The 88% Polyester / 12% Spandex fabric blend makes this a durable and machine washable piece of women's activewear. This tights are cut 23" inseam with plus sizes cut 22."

EVCR High Waisted Leggings for Women - 7/8 Length Athletic Tummy Control Yoga Pants for Workout, Black, X-Large

EVCR High Waisted Leggings for Women - 7/8 Length Athletic Tummy Control Yoga Pants for Workout, Black, X-Large
BESTSELLER NO. 5 in 2022
  • SUPER SOFT FABRIC: Our leggings are made from a premium blend of 85% Polyester and 15% Spandex. 4-way stretch and non-see through material designed to contour perfectly to your body ensures confidence for the ultimate level of comfort all day!
  • PERFECT FOR ANY OCCASION: Moisture wicking technology will keep you dry as it pulls dampness away from the skin. The "go-to" everyday leggings for any setting - Combining performance, function and fashion.
  • FORM-FITTING: Smooth fit with no muffin-top issue. Thick and supportive yet breathable for the gym and warm for cooler seasons.
  • LENGTH, INSEAM & WAISTBAND: EVCR High-Waisted Leggings are 7/8 in length and hit just above the ankles with an inseam of 23.5 inches. The waistband is seamless.
  • CARE INSTRUCTIONS: Machine Wash Safe - Wash cold / Do not bleach / Tumble dry low / Wash with like colors.

90 Degree By Reflex High Waist Squat Proof Interlink Leggings for Women - Black - XL

90 Degree By Reflex High Waist Squat Proof Interlink Leggings for Women - Black - XL
BESTSELLER NO. 6 in 2022
  • SQUAT PROOF INTERLINK FABRIC. Constructed from high tech 4-way stretch fabric, our high waisted workout leggings will move with you, and provide gentle compression where you need it most. With a 76% Polyester and 24% Spandex interlock weave, Interlink is the top of the line in squat proof activewear. No more worrying about visible panties, these yoga pants for women offer total coverage while bending, squatting, and lifting. Feel completely confident that Interlink has you covered.
  • HIGH WAIST TUMMY CONTROL. Say goodbye to muffin top and hello to a smooth, flat tummy. These high rise tummy control leggings provide gentle compression to your midsection, giving you a toned and trim look. Our high waisted workout tights are a popular style for women of all ages for the excellent fit and supreme comfort. The high rise gives women that extra boost of confidence to look and feel their best. The 4-way stretch moves with you, retaining its shape over time.
  • SUPREME DURABILITY. These full length women’s leggings are so good you won’t want to take them off. But that’s OK because the construction is stellar and the durability is unmatched. The durable interlink material withstands normal wear and washings to last for years. Which is why consumers love these high rise pants for everything from workouts at the gym to lounging around the house.
  • RELIABLE, WELL-LOVED BRAND. 90 Degree by Reflex is a lifestyle brand that combines style, comfort, fit, and performance. The high quality activewear is both affordable and accessible, perfect for fitness enthusiasts and everyday athleisure. Rest assured that you will receive a quality product from Amazon’s #1 seller of athletic leggings and other athleisure products. Consumers love our products and reviews speak for themselves. Get on board with the brand that men and women are raving about!
  • 30-DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. 90 Degree by Reflex’s products are sold with a 30-day, full-money-back warranty and can be returned no questions asked. Add these women’s leggings to your cart by clicking the "Add-to-Cart" button and buy it now. We run out of inventory quickly, so order now while colors and styles last.

Womens Tops Short Sleeve Tunics to Wear with Leggings Summer Floral Blouse Henley Shirt Purple L

Womens Tops Short Sleeve Tunics to Wear with Leggings Summer Floral Blouse Henley Shirt Purple L
BESTSELLER NO. 7 in 2022
  • A Nice Silky Feeling Against Your Skin Gently .(M-3XL Womens Plus Size Tops)
  • Loose fit tunic Features Paisley Bohemia pattern design / Floral print pattern / Short sleeve / V neck /Button up / Pleated front/Flowy bottom hem
  • Henley V neck can let your neck line looks more slender and graceful.Breathable and comfy fabric suits for summer also wear with a coat outside in the cool days
  • Pleated on the front and back for a stylish design also hide the belly.Besides, The looseness and ruffle details on the middle can hide the muffin top perfecterly
  • Flattering Unique floral print pattern make you so special in the crowd.Perfect length to wear with jeans,leggings and capris,and it can be worn outside or as an undershirt with a jacket or cardigan

Vinmatto Women's Scoop Neck Pleated Blouse Top Tunic Shirt(L,Red)

Vinmatto Women's Scoop Neck Pleated Blouse Top Tunic Shirt(L,Red)
BESTSELLER NO. 8 in 2022
  • Soft and comfortable fabric with stretch
  • Machine Wash Cold or Hand Wash Cold (Recommended) and Hang Dry.Generally there is no special care for it.
  • This top is a very comfortable breathable material that you will easily be able to wear all day and evening.
  • Perfect to pair this slim fit tunic shirt with your favorite trademark skinny jeans or short
  • ONLY ITEMS SOLD BY Vinmatto ARE AUTHENTIC, BEWARE OF COUNTERFEIT SELLERS

Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. Gold Label Women's Totally Shaping Pull-On Skinny Jeans, Immaculate, 16

Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. Gold Label Women's Totally Shaping Pull-On Skinny Jeans, Immaculate, 16
BESTSELLER NO. 9 in 2022
  • Super stretch lasts from day to night; Snug fit doesn't lose shape
  • Vintage, worn-in look
  • Mid-rise pull-on waistband with tummy-slimming panel
  • Skinny through hip and thigh
  • 29” inseam. Kindly refer size chart for measurement details
  • Unique fabric varies in color due to wash, finish, and dye
  • Machine wash

Timeson White Sleeveless Tops for Women, Ladies Sleeveless Swing Top A Line Flattering Tunic Tank Chiffon Blouses for Work Business Casual Summer Clothes Party Shirt White X-Large

Timeson White Sleeveless Tops for Women, Ladies Sleeveless Swing Top A Line Flattering Tunic Tank Chiffon Blouses for Work Business Casual Summer Clothes Party Shirt White X-Large
BESTSELLER NO. 10 in 2022
  • Stretchable soft lining not see through (APPAREL RUN LARGE,RECOMMEND ORDER SIZE DOWN)
  • Double Layers Chiffon design with an ultra chic look
  • Lightweight and Breathable fabric to keep you cool and comfortable
  • Chiffon Tank top match well with jeans, pants, leggings and shorts great for office work.
  • Machine washable to avoid this tunic top been distorted,put into laundry bag during machine wash is recommended

Chronicles of Ranadon

The legend of the Boy Who Never Returned will finally be proven. Dr. Zella Windham has been given an Ed. Decree to study the Black Mountain Forest-a land untouched for over 3000 yrs-for medicines only, but instead she moves to prove/disprove this legend.

Just when I think I've got a good hold of myself, someone pulls the reverse psychology trump card and I end up in a place like this: the edge of the Black Mountain Forest of Ranadon, getting ready to go into the 500,000-acre piece of land dense with forest and smothered in mountains, which haven't seen a human foot in over 3000 years. How did I get here? Oh. Right. Professor Doug Millard, my old thesis advisor and arch nemesis (not really, but we like to call each other that). Apparently, he knew exactly what he was doing when he said, "Well, if you don't want to do something great and courageous that nobody else has ever done, Zella, then I can't really blame you. The legends of the Black Mountain Forest are frightening!"

Now that I stand here staring into unknown territory with hiking and hunting gear strapped to my back, my mother rattling off all the reasons I shouldn't be doing this, my father standing quietly in obedient agreement, and my brother making bets with the locals on whether or not I'll make it out alive, I'm not sure I should have taken the bait. Dough Millard and I have an odd love-hate relationship. He loves to make me hate him. Anyway, what's done is done and I'm the first person in well over 3000 years with a special decree from the Governor to enter this piece of the country. I guess that makes this a special event.

The people of Ranadon have always steered clear of the Black Mountain Forest. No human has stepped foot past the tree line since that fateful day when the boy from the Woodlan Tribe and other young tribal initiates throughout Ranadon entered the Black Mountain Forest for the coming of age ceremonies with tribal elders. On this journey, however, one boy child never returned a man. Legend says the boy's camp was attacked by the spirits and creatures of the mountains and forest. Just before the attack, they say that Ranadon stood still with the silence of death, cooking and camping fires went out everywhere and every person in Ranadon was immobilized by an invisible force. When this hold was released, they say, there was a slight breeze, nature sounds, and fires magically rekindled--but in the mountains, where initiates were pledging and performing acts necessary for initiation into adulthood, the boy was gone, never to be seen again.

I've always enjoyed a good legend or fairytale, but I never really believed them to be true like many other people do, especially here in Woodlan where the story originated. Superstition lurks around Woodlan like a lion stalking its prey, reading to pounce on any person looking for something to blame bad luck on. Lucky for me, I'm a native of Woodlan and have been privy to the hysterics of the superstitions of Full Moons - which was when initiates were brought into the Black Mountain Forest those many years ago - when people would gather at the place where the boy was said to have entered the forest and wail and scream at the air for an entire night. I never understood this peculiar ritual. Seemed rather exhausting; all this crying and screaming "spirits and creatures of the mountains and forest, release that boy!" If it hadn't worked in 3000 years, I'm almost certain it's okay to assume the boy will not return. Anyway, the boy was never given a name, as the children of those times weren't given one until they completed the coming of age ceremony. He's just known as the Boy Who Never Returned. Apparently, creativity wasn't prolific at the time.

In any case, whether the legend is true or not, the entire city of Woodlan now stands behind me throwing dirt at my feet for "good luck." I decided it best not to tell them that the dirt will only wash off once I walk through to creek to get into the forest, but I let them have their moment. Everyone needs comfort, I suppose, and tossing dirt at my feet and whispering, "may the spirits and creatures of the mountains and forest let you be," seems to be a better alternative to the possibility of them wailing and screaming upon my departure, which I'm not certain they won't do anyway. I try not to look so annoyed, and then I see him. Professor Dough Millard. He was standing in the crowd watching me with his wry smile. I couldn't help but laugh because he and I share the same belief that the legends of the Black Mountain Forest aren't real and the only reason we've never gone in there is because of the Ranadonian Law that prohibits it. But now, there is an Educational Decree allowing me to enter this 'haunted forest.' I don't know how Doug wheedled this out of the timid and easily frightened Governor of Ranadon, but I'm sure it had something to do with his ability to manipulate the energy of the room and work his "mental magic," as I like to call it. This is otherwise known as psychological mind-play.

I sighed, shook my head and returned the smile with equal wryness and waved him over.

"You certainly seem to be enjoying yourself, Doug." I said to him as I resisted the urge to kick the man who just threw dirt on my feet.

"Oh, this is certainly entertaining. I must say, though, the best part is watching that brother of yours play on the superstitions of the people to make money on this bet of his," he said smiling proudly. My twin brother, Eri, shares many of the same beliefs about superstitions, and now that he is a financial guru throughout the land of Ranadon, he's using this to his advantage. I couldn't help but be proud myself.

"He is quite innovative, isn't he?" I said with a smile and a wave when Eri looked over at me and winked. I just shook my head and heard the voice I'd been waiting to hear for the last two hours.

"Miss. Zella Windham!" came the shaky voice of the Governor. I turned to meet this tiny man, who looked as fragile as an old lady with Parkinson's disease.

"Governor," I said, bowing slightly, thankful his approach warded off the dirt throwers. "It's a pleasure to meet you. We truly appreciate your signing of this Educational Decree!"

I tried. I did. I really tried to keep the sarcasm out of my tone, but I failed, miserably. Annoyance flickered in his eyes and Doug cleared his throat to bring the attention to him instead.

"Georgio. We really appreciate this opportunity," Doug said quietly, stepping forward. "It will greatly help with our research of the natural land and potentially give us new medicines to work with!" he finished, rather animatedly, I thought. This was so unnatural that I couldn't resist turning to look at him slowly with a look of shock on my face. I saw him do a quick shake of his head, just barely noticeable, and it was a warning. I didn't want to blow this, especially now that I had dirt all over my feet.

"Well, I am here to wish you the best of luck, Miss. Windham," the Governor said solemnly as he put out his hand. I took it and immediately regretted it the moment he trapped my hand with his other hand, bowed his head and said, "May the spirits of Ranadon guide you." He let go, leaned down, picked up a handful of dirt and poured it over my head.

The look on Doug and Eri's faces was something akin to holding back a bowel movement.

I spit out the dirt and tried to brush most of it off subtly so as not to offend the Governor. Now, at this point, I wanted nothing more than to go into the Black Mountain Forest, if for no other reason than to bathe. I hugged my mother, father, and brother who got an extra slap in the back of the head for the bets he was making on my possible demise, and gave a quick and uncomfortable hug to Doug. I turned and headed with a brave look on my face into the unknown with nothing but my tent, water bottle, a knife, a first aid kit, and a bow and arrow (which I haven't used since I was a kid, so I'm betting I won't need to now, but my mother insisted I bring it). The brave look was for the dramatics. May as well give these people a show.

The beginning of the forest before the mountains wasn't so bad. Sunlight was beaming through the trees and glistening on the damp leaves; the birds were chirping happily and the squirrels were playing chicken with me by jumping in and out of my path, hoping to be trampled so they had a reason to bite me; the smells permeated the air and invaded my nostrils, while the bright, untouched colors of the virgin forest sent magnificent images into my mind's eye.

This is truly a beautiful place and nothing seems overly dangerous here. It amazed me that people stayed away from this place for 3000 years because of the Legend of the Boy Who Never Returned. Eri and I used to try to come up with logical stories as to what really happened to the boy. We did this in secret, of course, for fear that our families would be imprisoned for such a blatant disrespect of Ranadonian legends. Our final guess was that the story of the spirits and creatures was made up because of something gone wrong at the ceremony. Historical and archeological records indicate these ceremonies were brutal. Three weeks of standing up straight in a single position after a two-day ritual of circumcision, tattooing, piercing, and homoerotic behavior. I'm much more inclined to believe that something went wrong here than to believe the story about spirits stealing the boy and taking him to the Cave of Ranadon, which is now protected by fairies, trolls, and mystical talking animals. The legend says they keep the boy's spirit prisoner in the Cave of Ranadon at the mouth of the largest mountain in the center of this land. Fantastical, really.

Doug, Eri, and I had a deal. We would get the Educational Decree on the grounds that I would be researching botany and water for healing medicines, with the real mission being to find my way to the center mountain and debunk this absurd legend. This was for the best of the people. The times have changed dramatically and Ranadonians were becoming more and more superstitious and afraid of everything. The government wasn't helping matters either, with their constant need for upheaval and war. It was up to the Ranadonian scholars to help bring our people to some state of peace with historical, technological, and medicinal advancements. With my background in aromatic and herbologic psychiatry, it was quite easy to get that Educational Decree without raising suspicions. Still, I had to be very careful. There was a possibility that the government would send someone to follow me, or, at the very least, check on my findings when I returned.

The excursion was going well for the research. Only four days into it, and I'd already collected several very small samples of soil, plants, bones (probably animal), and water from various creeks. Thankfully, and lucky for me, no spirits and creatures have tried to abduct me. That's definitely a good sign, I think.

A couple of weeks into the journey, I came to the edge of the thick forest part of the land and at the base of the mountains when I saw a deer nibbling on a tree filled with a red, exotic-looking fruit. Curious, I quietly started moving toward the deer. She looked at me sweetly and impertinently. She kept chewing away as I made my way to the tree cautiously. I was only four or five feet away from this beautiful creature, who found me nothing more than a strange creature sharing a snack with her. She was magnificent. The fruits looked like plum-sized berries. They were sweet, succulent, and absolutely delicious. I'd never seen these before, either, so I bagged one in an instant-freeze bag and tucked it away for analysis as well.

As I climbed and descended and got closer to the center, the temperature was dropping rapidly. I was thankful for the last minute additions to my packing gear by none other than Doug Millard. My clothes, tent and sleeping bags were made of heat-insulation material. I had a winter mask which captures body heat without smothering you packed as well. The days were warm and breezy, but the nights were below freezing. The heat-insulation material worked automatically based on my body temperature. Brilliant invention really, and it didn't even add any bulk to the clothing.

Five weeks into the journey, I was getting close. I could see the tips of the mountains in every direction. I studied the outdated map very closely and saw the center mountain was the one directly in front of me looking west. The next day, I would make it up and over this current gigantic rock and I would be at the center mountain, where initiates were taken over 3000 years ago. As a history fanatic, I couldn't help but feel the excitement. I was about to touch on pieces of our history that nobody has ever seen or documented. It was getting dark and very cold, so I decided to pitch my tent and have some supper. I double checked my samples and made sure my small notebook and pen were easily accessible in the backpack. I figured if I left early morning, I would make it down the mountain and to the Cave of Ranadon at the mouth of the center mountain by midday.

The uneventful journey to this point left me quite confident that I wouldn't be attacked by any unseen spirits or strange mystical creatures. It made me laugh every time I thought about the worried faces as I headed into the forest the first day. When morning came, however, I was groggily packing up to leave and noticed something strange: the scenery was completely different. I could no longer see the tip of the mountain. There was a flowing creek just a few yards behind my tent that I knew wasn't there last night. The trees were thicker and darker, and the height of the mountains told me I was no longer anywhere near the top. It looked like I was back in the forest part of the land.

But, how?

I decided to investigate the surrounding area. Nothing was out of the ordinary, other than the fact that I wasn't where I was when I went to sleep last night, so I headed back toward my campsite. I must have traveled over a mile to investigate, but a mile back in the same direction led me to nothing. My campsite, gear, and samples were gone!

Okay. Stay calm.

There has to be a reasonable explanation for this. Perhaps, Doug and Eri followed me in and are playing a trick on me. Doubtful, since I'm sure I would have heard them by now. I could be dreaming.

Ouch! Okay, that pinch tells me I'm awake, or at least have the ability to feel pain and hear a yelp in my dreams.

I suddenly noticed the strange noises coming from all around me. I could no longer see the mountains or even the sky because the vegetation and trees were growing so thick around me. The sounds I was hearing were the vegetation and growth of natural life coming up in every direction, surrounding me like a wall. I was disoriented and nauseous and I winced as a high-pitched buzzing, song-like noise permeated the claustrophobic air around me. The nausea was getting worse. The mossy grass under my feet was getting thicker. The leaves on the trees started to brighten, as if they had little light bulbs in them.

Then, it went black.

I opened my eyes slowly and had no idea where I was, why it was so dark and cold, or why it smelled so musty. I couldn't move, either. My wrists and ankles were bound. I couldn't see anything at all.

What happened?

A quick recap: I had supper, went to sleep, got up and was in a different place. I Investigated the area, got lost, got sick, passed out and ended up in a pitch black place bound like a psychotic criminal. And my head was pounding like a hangover that was begging to make my life miserable.

That seemed simple enough, but where am I was more the question. No better time than now to find out, I suppose.

"Hello?"

"You are safe, child of Woodlan," came a soft, enchanting voice from… well… nowhere.

"Who are you? Where am I?"

"I am the Darkness, and you are in a safe place," it said.

My mind began running a mile a minute. How do you respond to that? I must be in a padded room.

"Okay, Mr., er, Darkness. Why can't I move?"

"So that you do not scramble and hurt yourself. The guardians know you are awake are coming to give you light. You must trust them, Zella."

"How do you know my name?"

"I know everyone's name."

"Uh huh." I'm definitely in a psych ward. The government must have found out what I was doing and locked me away.

"Well I can already see I'm not gonna get anywhere with you, so how long before the, er, guardians show up?"

"They will be here shortly."

"Oh good. Helpful too. Fantastic." I sighed and my nerves were starting to sing with frustration. I don't like being constricted and I certainly don't like circular conversations.

"Can you unbind me please? I promise I won't move until the guardians get here."

"I cannot do that, I'm afraid," the deep voice said, no longer sounding so soft and enchanting.

"And why not?" I countered back with more than a hint of hostility.

"Because it is not in my power to release you."

"Oh for God's sake!" I whisper in exasperation as I wiggled around to try and release the binds. I resigned to just lie there and wait patiently for my liberators.

After what must have been an hour, patience was escaping me and annoyance began to fill my blood like fire.

"Hey, Darkness!" I shouted in agitation. "I thought you said my guardians will come and release me."

"I did not say they would release you," it said softly. "I said they would give you light. And they are not 'your' guardians, but 'the' guardians, and they are already here. They have been here for quite some time," it said in an amused tone.

When I realized Darkness here wouldn't elaborate, I asked, "then why can't I see the light they're supposed to be giving me?" This felt like an extremely awkward conversation I once had with a new-age hippie.

"Your life depends on you being able to see the guardians, Zella, so you have to open your mind and find them."

Christ.

"Well, I'll need a cranium saw and the release of at least one of my hands."

"This is not a physical thing you must do, Zella," the voice said patiently. "You will not be able to see them until you believe that you can."

Oh. My. God. Ladies and Gentleman, meet the new-age evangelical extremists!

"What exactly is it that I'm supposed to do? And don't repeat 'open your mind' because that obviously didn't make sense the first time. Try something else."

"Try to see what you did not see before."

Asshole.

Sighing heavily, I said, "Ok. I'll play your way, Darkness. What do you mean by see what I did not see before and opening my mind?"

It took several moments before the voice answered.

"You are a scientist, Zella, and live only on facts. You have spent your entire existence resisting the magic of legendary stories that have passed through your generations…"

"What the…"

"You look for obstacles in every path, condemning those that see the magic of life through their eyes."

"You can't honestly tell me you're talking about the superstitions that run rampant in society out there in Ranadon?" I asked incredulously.

"These superstitions, as you call them, are historical events that have been altered in translation, and I agree they have run rampant in your society. There is no balance or harmony in your society and it is destroying your world. Millions of years ago, this balance was created, but it was fragile and pure, unseen and untouched by a physical force. Then, 3127 years ago, a group of people came to this very cave and desecrated it with violence toward an innocent boy. Much blood was spilled right where you lie. That night, the delicate balance of good and evil was disrupted. The Light of Ranadon became distraught and was consumed by the forest, corrupted by physical forces and used covetously."

I couldn't help myself for some reason, "If you're not a physical force, who are you?"

"I am the spirit your people ask the forest to release. I am the keeper of The Dark of Ranadon. I am the Boy Who Never Returned. I died in this cave and my spirit was consumed by the Darkness and I became the kepper. No human soul has inhabited this forest in over 3000 years because on the very night I was killed, the keeper of the Light of Ranadon disintegrated when she was consumed all those years ago.

"The Light of Ranadon is a soft and gentle soul of the feminine world, but she was split into millions of pieces and is not as strong as she should be, which disrupts the balance. You see your world around you outside this forest crumbling; morals disintegrating; people destroying each other. You can change that, Zella," the soft voice finished gently.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The legend was true? Both Eri and my version plus the superstitious one? Unreal.

"How?" Really, why do I indulge?

"By showing that our mountainous forest is harmless. Allow it to open so that it feels human life again. At some point, a human woman will die in these mountains, and that woman's soul will be chosen as the keeper of the Light of Ranadon. She will be able to purify the Light of Ranadon and make it a separate entity from the World again, so that she and I can regain the balance and harmony of life."

My head was running, at this point almost literally, away from me.

"Zella, you must go back to your people and tell them that you saw the beauty of the mountainous forest and there is no danger. Your samples will show that it is harmless and actually quite therapeutic for the soul," it said almost playfully.

"But what about the superstitions? What about the legend of the Boy Who Never Returned? What do I tell them about that?"

"That is simple, Child of Woodlan. You do not tell them. The legend, in all its many versions, is the truth, and people will deal with it the way they choose. It will take many years for the rituals to stop--only after many thousands have ventured here to find us harmless and without mystical creatures to deter and abuse them. This is a truth that lies within us all, but in a different spot of our imaginative minds," it said softly.

At this, my eyes flew open and suddenly there were layers upon layers of what looked like light bugs hovering over my body. They were beautiful. Green, blue, red, yellow, purple! So vibrant and shiny!

"What are they?" I whispered.

"They are the guardians," the voice said joyfully. "You have trusted me and opened your mind to what you could not see before: Truth in the magics of life. These guardians are the souls of the other thousands of boys and girls brought to this forest and brutalized against their will by tribal members thousands of years ago. My death put a stop to it."

I felt the binds loosen and I stretched as I looked around at the beautiful rock walls around me. Flits of colorful light surrounded me. The buzz of a happy song sent comfortable shivers down my neck. I couldn't help but stare at these beautiful creatures around me. Somehow, as radical as this story sounds, I know, without even a shadow of a doubt, that it's all true. As I started to follow the light bugs, as I can only describe them, I stopped and addressed the Darkness:

"Why yours? Why was it your life that stopped these initiations and not one of the others?" I asked and immediately felt a sense of love and appreciation from the "light bugs" around me. It occurred to me that those children were cut, burned, stabbed, raped, and humiliated by adult elders and many obviously died, but this boy was obviously different.

After several moments, it answered. "Because I died in a sacrifice of love, not in one of the rituals" it said sadly.

"My twin brother was weaker than me. I tried to protect him from a brutal rape by several of the elders. He was crying and being beaten and called terrible names." The lights around me fluttered in agitation. As tears began to stream down my face, I wanted to beg the voice to stop, but instead I looked back into the Darkness, stunned and captured by curiosity. It continued on:

"I jumped forward and volunteered to take his place. It was that moment that Stillness came over the forest and all of Ranadon. No child had ever tried to protect another. The elders were angered. They tortured me in front of my brother and the other children. I resigned to silence. I did not scream. I did not cry. I smiled at my brother and through our bond, he knew he had to be strong and carry this legend with him, in hopes that these 'rituals' would not continue." I couldn't help but notice the harsh emphasis on the word 'rituals.'

When I realized it wouldn't continue, I asked "How do I know you're telling me the truth?"

I couldn't resist.

"Because you already knew the truth before you asked," it said with an obvious invisible wry smile, reminding me nostalgically of Doug.

Damn.

I smiled through my tears and turned to follow the guardians out of the cave. They disappeared the moment they came into contact with the sunlight, tinkling lightly into natural life around me. I took a deep breath and was shocked to see all my belongings neatly piled and ready for departure leaning up against the opening to the cave.

Four months after my departure into the forest, I returned to a field of tents and campfires. It was dusk and the most beautiful part of the day, when the last warm rays of sun were kissing the earth. It seemed like the entirety of Ranadon had camped out at the entrance to the Black Mountain Forest. I was relieved and pleased to see the first line of tents were designated to family, friends, and Woodlan inhabitants, as well as the Governor of Ranadon. I smiled as my mother turned and came running at me like I'd just returned home from war. I welcomed her embrace. I closed my eyes, burying my head in her neck, and cried happily; this was the safest place in Ranadon.

Forty years later, Zella and Doug Millard watched from their mountain cabin as their great grandchildren sled down a small lip in the mountain. The money she and Doug received from their contributions to healthcare through the use of medicines found on Zella's journey all those years ago allowed them to retire here in the newly named, "Cherished Land," which is named in the history books as the Black Mountain Forest.

The Millards owned a large piece of land where they built cabins for visitors, tourists, campers, family, and friends who traveled here. The forest was now protected by the Government of Ranadon, and even though society was still stricken with impoverished families, greed, and corruption, the opening of the 500,000-acre land did much to ease the minds of millions of Ranadonians.

The legend of the Boy Who Never Returned lived on. The version brought back by Zella was passed down through generations in her family, but she never went public with the information. Let them believe, she thought.

On a fine misty morning, Doug awoke to a cold and stiff body next to him. He cried with the grief of his loss, but also knew what this meant. He got up, called the doctor who would bring the coroner, and then called his children and grandchildren. Grief was heavy in the Ranadonian society at the death of Dr. Zella Millard. Her own legend would live on and she would become the Keeper of the Light of Ranadon.

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