TSAR MADE THE FOOL (The Flying Ship)

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Brainless Peasant Outwits Ruler; Wins Right to Marry Princess

Skyrgrad, Pleasant Kingdoms - Tsar Tsmartski thought he had the perfect plan: announce that he would give his daughter, Princess Tatiana, in marriage to any man resourceful enough to arrive at court in a flying ship. The move had two main purposes: forge a family alliance with a powerful noble and complement the Tsar's navy with a new military wing called an "air force." However, yesterday morning, Ivan Ivanov, a simple and dimwitted peasant, arrived in a flying ship with a band of six fellow fools.

"Oh, it was quite simple to build the ship. It was. It was. It was," says Mr. Ivanov, 26. "An old man told me to go into the forest, hit the biggest tree I could find with a hatchet, fall down on my back, and go to sleep. Whelp, when I woke up, sure enough, the tree was gone and there was a great big flying boat. It's true, it's true!"

Although Mr. Ivanov arrived in a flying ship, as instructed, the Tsar still put him through a rigorous interview process. "Well, I want only the very best for my daughter," the Tsar explained at a press conference this morning. "That's why I made him find the magical water of life, eat twelve whole oxen, drink forty barrels of wine, bathe in boiling water, and produce an honor guard of ten thousand soldiers. And, well, you all saw that he did it. All of it. No getting around it, is there? Mr. Ivanov will apparently marry the princess."

Mr. Ivanov is delighted with his good fortune. "Oh yes! Oh  yes! Oh yes! The wedding's tonight at sundown. Apparently we ate all the roast oxen and drank all the wine for the feast, but what can you do?"

Princess Tatiana did not arrive at this morning's press conference. In addition, the flying ship is nowhere to be seen.

Tune in next Tuesday for more news from the wacky world of fairy tales

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