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>Are all strings within Lua represented as lstrings?

Yes. All strings within Lua are byte arrays with an explicit length stored.
The length is a long, and so the strings can be really long :-)
See the type TString in lobject.h for details.

But doesn't the manual say so?

  Lua is eight-bit clean, and so strings may contain any 8-bit character,
  including embedded zeros.