WOW...thank you for the input! I'd pretty much given up on this thread but just checked back :)
I'm not too worried about not having a glass smooth finish so filling in the grain won't be necessary. Sounds like lacquer will be my best bet here, which I never would have considered before, so I think I'll give that a shot.
As far as the aging of padauk, this is just a case for my darts that was made out of some scrap maple, and I ordered a couple exotic 1/4" boards to try some new woods. I ordered padauk because I liked the look and had never worked with it before(same with the bloodwood). As far darkening, this is a dart case that will be toted to the bar when I play and pulled out in my game room. It won't see a lot of light, and even if it darkens and gets ugly in a few years, I could always make another one too. That said, I have googled padauk and seen some images of it much darker and still don't think it looks that bad after darkening, granted it won't look as nice as it does right now, but I don't think I'll be tossing this case in the garbage because of it. Now had I spent $$$$ on padauk to make a dining room table or some other big piece, yes I would be upset when it darkened to that point.