I believe these questions are related, so I will strive to answer them all at once. I’m afraid my answer will require some extensive context, though!
It would be a lie to claim that I was not basically freaking out in every possible way during the whole process that was my induction as His sickle master. And it was quite a production! I was told by the Grand Elder himself that I was being considered for this prestigious duty. Just imagine what my face looked like! Honestly I don’t know myself. I’m afraid it was quite slack, though.
All the other candidates were High-Level Guardians of the Scripture — unlike me, a mere Mid-Level Guardian — so I really wasn’t expecting to be their final choice. But the Elders took many factors in consideration other than advancement in the Mysteries, such as body type, horn position and horn size, and that was how I came to be given this sacred mission.
After being thoroughly instructed in my duties, though, the Grand Elder told me in confidence that he supported me for one reason above all else — and that was the fact that I used to be a Pupa Minder before offering my skills to the protection of the Sufferer’s Holy Scripture. He felt that my experience dealing with children was more important than my experience as a fighter, because, despite his timeless wisdom, the Son of Sorrow was still a child himself. A very smart child who found adults and their blind worshiping to be rather frustrating, in fact! So I was asked to treat him as a child, not as my savior, and given full permission to call him by his Wiggler Name rather than by Prayer.
On an intellectual level I knew there was wisdom in his requests, but knowing that did not assuage my nerves at all! Oh god, I had the most ridiculous dreams on the preceding nights. Instead of a child, He’d look as He did in the frescoes, broad-shouldered and imposing in His traveling cape, His face in shadows and His eyes gleaming scarlet. And He’d just stand there judging me, and I kept dropping my sickle! One time I dreamed I’d forgotten to put on my glasses and I actually woke up from the distress of it. What if I uttered His Illusory Name and was struck down for my disrespect?
But once I truly saw Him for the first time…
I knew the look in that face very, very well. Whenever we took in a child who’d already experienced life on the surface, they’d have that look. Always distrustful, always bracing for disappointment, always expecting the worst.
So I called him Mister Karkat, and he raised an eyebrow really high and looked totally floored!
I tried my best to make sure he was at ease. I sat down with him on the floor for a talk just like I used to back in Wingpowder Hive and gave him a gentler version of the usual introductory spiel before going into an abbreviated history lesson. I was so nervous, though! It was hard to concentrate on that first day. He’s so fascinating and his charisma is so overwhelming, it takes some acclimatizing to.
But once we had that first conversation, he was not nearly as aloof, and I also felt a lot more at ease. He’s very hard-working and takes these lessons very seriously, and yet underneath all that seriousness there is a caring child with a sense of humor. In the span of a second, he can turn from a wise young man with the weight of trollkind on his shoulders to a clever, impatient kid who’ll challenge me to back anything I say! Bearing witness to all the multiple facets of his personality is such a blessing. It wasn’t long before I was teaching him much as I would have any other kid, only this one was draped in Sacred Red. Before I knew it I was poking him much like I used to poke my old students.
We actually have fun — or at least I enjoy myself teaching him, and he always looks like he’s enjoying himself while learning.
So I would say the answer to your questions is: my feelings were complicated but positive, touching him is like touching a very dedicated student, and yes, I am allowed to address him in less formal terms. It’s not smart to do so in mixed company, though! Letting his wiggler name slip out away from his presence has actually gotten me punched a couple of times…