The Dual Throne
Culture of the Shaanxi City-States
The Shaanxi are fiercely independent and often react extremely to perceived threats that encroach on this freedom. They hold the Zhouji Empire in high esteem, since the Empire had simply let them go their own way.
The middle class is on the rise within the city-states, most of the nobility had opted to return to the Zhouji Empire rather than break away and lose the prestige that their families had accrued over countless generations.
The merchant class essentially makes the laws of the city (mostly through private contract) with the various Assassin Houses enforcing these contracts, thereby maintaining order.
Some of the City-States have set up a gladiatorial combat circuit in several cities. The largest of these regulated fields of battle is the Arena of the Stone, only the most vicious of warriors fight there.