Note: I have followed Joseph Russells' Tutorial on followers with some slight modifications. I only watched it for the template scripts though.
I have set up two quest stages: one is numbered 1 which is just a blank stage to ensure the quest is running from the start (SEQ file is generated and placed in the correct folder). The second is numbered 5 which prevents the custom recruitment/story dialogue appearing again after hiring Ewond (a temporary follower name for now) and also to take away 1000 gold should they decide to hire him + make the player auto-follow if they do pay.
The problem is, is that despite seemingly correctly setting up the alias for Ewond to refer to him, it doesn't seem to do anything: the auto-follow and the gold paying script fragment (in a dialogue) does work, and so does the stage setting to 5. However the quest objective which informs the player of Ewond's successful employment is displayed like this: "[...] has become your companion and is now recruitable." instead of "Ewond has become your companion and is now recruitable."
What is strange that is the sqv command shows something amiss too: before hiring Ewond, the alias ref looks like this: "Ewond" ---> NONE (should be correct since the Russells' tutorial never said anything about force referencing or referencing at all) but turns into this after stage 5: "Ewond" ---> "" (Insert Ewond's ID here after) which is strange since the actual ID for Ewond should be something like "GFEwond" or just "Ewond" instead of just blankness.
I tried everything: I made it an optional alias, tried force referencing, tried unique actor referring, but to no result. I am completely stumped what could cause it honestly.
If someone could help me with this problem, then I will be forever grateful.