To graduate from wizard training, Stick must direct a starving lion to go from one end of a long cage to the other. Then survive the brother wizard who hates him - and the Moon Queen who loves him.
Tired of magic wand, eye of newt 'recipe' magic?
If the ingredients really contain the power, you perform a chemistry experiment.
Perhaps real magicians can impose their will on the world without hocus pocus.
In the early Neolithic era, wizard schools teach powerful inner magic. Chants and charms might fool ignorant primitive hunters and stoop farmers, but not the king of beasts. In the end, your inner strength derives from the God or Goddess you serve.
"In The Moon Queen", a very short story for very young children, a poor little backwoods girl walks all the way to town to see the visiting Moon Queen, only to have the crowd of arrogant town people turn her away.
However, far from the proud and powerful, she meets a little girl in a carriage who insists they change clothes, and she never sees her mother and little brother again.
Stick and the Lion first appeared in "Bardic Runes IX" in 1994.