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> It seems that the "!" doesn't do what is expected to do.

Confirmed !

For information, the "!" character is not interpreted by Windows, but
is converted to the executable path by Lua.
This is done in function setprogdir in loadlib.c, using
GetModuleFileNameA function to retrieve the executable path.
When -E is set, pmain calls resetpaths in lua.c to reset search path.
The problem is that resetpaths is called *after" setprogdir, and the
"!" characters are not parsed a second time.